** Check against delivery**
It is a great privilege to provide my first Address to the Parliament as Tasmania’s 46th Premier and I thank my colleagues for entrusting me with this honour.
I also want to thank my predecessor, Will Hodgman, for his service to the Tasmanian people, and his wife Nicky along with his children for the sacrifices they have made as a family to enable Will to serve this state and its people so well for so long.
All of us in this place do what we do with the support of others, and too often they are not recognised for what they do and I extend my thanks to our respective partners and families.
Madam Speaker, over the last six years we have demonstrated we are a disciplined, united and responsible government.
We have built the foundations for, and sustained, strong economic and jobs growth for our State.
And we have demonstrated commitment, focus and drive to deliver a better future for Tasmania.
This will not change under my leadership.
This Government was elected in 2014 to:
We will continue to deliver on these priorities but there is more that needs to be done.
In health, we have immediately increased investment and made sweeping changes to governance recognising that demand for services remains high and we must get better patient outcomes.
There is more to do in housing and climate change as well as ensuring that more Tasmanians are able to grasp the opportunities our growing economy offers.
We must keep our State’s economy strong, so we can attract investment, create jobs and also generate the revenues we need to invest into health, education, housing and looking after our most vulnerable.
We must continue to strive to make our State a better place to live, work and raise a family, across all our regions.
And we must support people so they can benefit from the opportunities created by a strong economy.
Tasmania in 2020 leads the rest of the country on most economic indicators.
21,100 jobs have been created since 2014, with 256,100 Tasmanians now in work – the highest on record.
Employment levels are now higher in every Tasmanian region compared to when we came into Government.
And in the past year, we’ve had the highest employment growth rate in the country.
We have an economy growing at its strongest rate in 15 years, faster than the powerhouse economies of Victoria and NSW.
This growth is the result of nation-leading business confidence, increasing population and a strong budget position.
There is no doubt our strong economy has, and is, making a difference to the lives of a great many Tasmanians, but we know there is more to do.
Tasmanians want Government services to be more responsive, more accessible and more connected, and so they should be.
That is why we are commencing a broad sweeping review of the public service, which will bring the Tasmanian public sector firmly into the 21st century and stand us in good stead for the next 30 years.
Our aim is to create a public service that puts Tasmanians at the centre of everything it does, from the provision of services to the development of policy, to the expenditure of taxpayer funds.
The well credentialed and experienced Mr Ian Watt is leading the review, which will deliver a final report by the end of 2020.
However, we understand that it is the private sector, which is made up of predominantly small businesses in this state that takes the risks, drives investment, creates jobs and generates opportunities and this Government has and always will, unashamedly back them.
We are continuing to remove red tape and over regulation in order to attract private sector investment and create more jobs.
The latest Tasmanian Red Tape Audit Report confirms 84 per cent of the 125 identified red tape issues have now been resolved, equating to over 100 red tape reforms made by this Government.
These reforms have made doing business in Tasmania easier.
However, there is more to be done.
A common complaint by Tasmanians, whether they be building a house, a hotel or a manufacturing plant is the time it takes to gain the necessary development approvals required from TasNetworks and TasWater.
In a state with a growing population and growing demand for housing, this must be improved.
Clearly we need to further simplify our approvals process so homes are approved and built quicker.
That is why today, I am announcing we will, after consulting with Taswater, TasNetworks and industry representative bodies, introduce later this year legislative timeframes for the permit process for energy and water, and sewerage services.
We also understand that supply of land is critical to meeting demand for housing and we will in this year’s budget better resource our land titles office so that titles can be released to the market more quickly.
These actions will help to decrease the time it takes to get houses built, increase the supply of land and save many months on the time it takes to get Tasmanians into new housing.
There is more investment in our state occurring than ever before, whether it be windfarms, transmission networks, major linear infrastructure works and major manufacturing plants.
That is why, today we are releasing new draft Major Projects Legislation.
This Government’s Major Projects Legislation will provide an approvals pathway for projects that are of a scale, strategic significance or complexity beyond the normal capacities of local councils or for projects that cross municipal boundaries and involve multiple acts and regulators.
Major projects will be able to be referred into the process by local government, the proponent or the Minister for Planning and if they meet the criteria in the Act they can use this approvals pathway.
Once a project is declared a major project by the Minister, all decisions will be made by a specially convened expert panel appointed by the Independent Tasmanian Planning Commission.
The Government believes events tourism, especially relating to major sporting events supports the Tasmanian economy while also growing participation in healthy activities - this is why we are making strategic investments to secure national sporting teams.
We want all children to participate in sport and for those who aspire to the highest level to have a pathway into national competition.
This is why we are focused on ensuring that Tasmania is represented at the national level across our major sporting codes.
Being part of these national competitions will boost our economy, grow jobs and attract visitors, generating more revenue which can be invested into essential services like health, housing and education.
This is why we are resolutely pursuing an AFL team for Tasmania which modelling tells us will add $110m to the State’s economy each year, generating around 360 new jobs.
That is why we have reached an in-principle agreement with Glenorchy City Council and the LK Group to pave the way for Tasmania to have an NBL team, for the first time in 25 years.
This agreement will underpin significant development at Wilkinson’s Point and see an economic injection of $102 million into our State, lead to the creation of around 1,200 jobs and be a complete game changer for the northern suburbs of Hobart.
It’s also why I will be meeting with Football Tasmania shortly regarding their plans for an A League team for the State.
Not only will these arrangements create jobs and the opportunity for more Tasmanians to participate in sport, they will put Tasmania on the national stage – exactly where we deserve to be.
One industry sector that is firmly fixed on both the national stage and international stage is Tasmania’s tourism sector.
This industry generates significant economic growth and is one of our great success stories.
In the five years to September last year, total visitors increased by almost 25% to over 1.3 million and last year visitor spend increased by 5% to over $2.5 billion.
A critical part of our tourism strategy is to encourage and drive visitation to our regions and last year we saw two thirds of all visitors dispersing into our regional areas.
A crucial plank in our ‘visit the regions’ strategy is our creative, unique and diverse events.
We want to continue to support great events in Tasmania and that is why I am announcing the award-winning Unconformity Festival in Queenstown, which has gained a reputation both nationally and internationally, will receive an extra $375 000 this year so that they can deliver an even a bigger and better arts festival on the West Coast.
We know that we make the best whisky in the world, and our success at world renowned events in London and San Francisco has been spectacular and acknowledges our place on the national and global stage.
It’s now time to establish ourselves in this company and today I am announcing that the Government will provide $125,000 to deliver the inaugural International Whisky Awards in Tasmania in August 2020 – with the event positioned alongside the world renowned events held each year in London and San Francisco.
We also know our tourism industry has had a challenging start to the year beginning with the impacts on our domestic visitation from the tragic bushfire events on the mainland, and with the travel restrictions due to Coronavirus.
As a State we are well placed to respond to these challenges and I want to outline the steps being taken.
Tourism Tasmania has developed a Recovery Response Plan that will position our State and its offerings in the hearts and minds of national and international travellers in the months ahead.
This Plan will see it redirect $2 million of its existing budget, as well as an additional $1 million, towards in-market promotional activity. This is in addition to the $6.2 million already committed to promoting travel in the forthcoming winter months, and the new brand campaign to encourage more visitation during winter and for Tasmanians to holiday at home.
Tourism Tasmania is also working closely with Tourism Australia to leverage its own recovery package – Holiday Here this Year.
Another focus will be working with our transport partners, such as the airlines and TT Line to offer a range of packages that showcase our State and ensure that access to Tasmania is not just affordable, but attractive.
Our Visitor Economy supports more jobs per capita - mostly in small businesses - than any other State or Territory and with two of our regions in the five most tourism dependent in the country the Government will not be complacent at this critical time.
Another industry we are assisting to remain strong in the face of the Coronavirus is the fishing industry.
A month ago, we acted quickly to rollover quotas, provide assistance to enable direct sales to the public and extended fee payments for the Rock Lobster industry. And if more has to be done to support these important industries we will do it.
Over the last 12 months, as an exporter we’ve had to navigate Brexit, a US/China trade war and now Coronavirus.
It’s why we have developed a Tasmanian Trade Strategy – the first in our history and developed in partnership with Tasmania’s exporters and producers – with an ambitious target to reach $15 billion worth of trade by 2050.
And today I can announce that later this month, subject to travel arrangements, the Minister for Trade will be embarking on a two-week mission to the US to support a range of opportunities in food, agribusiness, advanced manufacturing, space, defence, education, renewable energy and more.
This market is our 5th strongest trading partner and accounts for 16% of our international visitors.
And with China and other Asian markets heavily impacted by the Coronavirus we want to assist our exporters grow their share of markets and open up new opportunities.
Key to our continued economic growth are our advanced manufacturing and defence sectors, which continue to find global markets for their world class products.
Our Tasmanian Defence Strategy, supported by our highly regarded Defence Advocate, retired Rear Admiral Steve Gilmore, has been integral to accessing global supply contracts and finding new opportunities for our defence supply companies.
The recent signing of an MOU between Thales Australia and the Australian Maritime College to establish a state-of-the-art test facility for submarine and surface ship sonar systems is testament to the success of our Defence Strategy.
This Government has also provided $125,000 for the business case to establish a Maritime Defence Innovation and Design Precinct, in Launceston, as part of the Launceston City Deal, which will provide more exciting opportunities for our defence supply industries and advance manufacturers.
Madam Speaker, unfortunately over the summer, we have witnessed more intense bushfires and extreme weather events and as the Minister for Climate Change I am well aware that we face a more volatile and changing climate.
I would first like to thank our firefighters and our volunteers for their bravery, commitment and selflessness. They put their lives on the line to keep us safe and no words can express our collective gratitude.
Their work over the summer on the mainland and at home was outstanding and integral to the success of multiple firefighting operations. On behalf of us all, we thank you.
And although Tasmania was not immune from fires this season, our fires were not of the scale or intensity of those on the mainland.
The stories of lives lost, homes destroyed, communities devastated and wildlife killed was saddening and confronting, and my sincere condolences go out to the families, friends and communities of those who lost their lives.
Many of the country towns were similar to those in Tasmania, small communities surrounded by bush.
It is clear that Tasmania is not immune from the same threats, so to keep Tasmanians safe we need to do more and we must be better prepared before next summer.
We must do everything we can to protect life, property, infrastructure and our natural assets.
And although we have a nation leading and well-resourced fuel mitigation program, the traditional window available for fuel reduction is narrowing and the intensity of our bushfires is increasing.
Under existing laws, in a bushfire emergency the State Controller can immediately take steps to put in place fire breaks and reduce fuel but this is only when the threat has materialised.
Due to the smaller windows available to reduce fuel loads, the current planning controls and regulations can limit landholders and our emergency services in taking preventative action. This must now change.
We understand, after the devastation on the mainland, that it is too late to put in a fire break when the fire is coming over the hill or at your backdoor.
We risk putting people’s lives and property at greater risk if we don’t act now.
To keep Tasmanians safe, I can today announce that the Government will introduce legislation in the coming months to make it easier to reduce fuel and mechanically clear vegetation for a fuel break once a bushfire hazard reduction plan has been issued.
The legislation will introduce a new streamlined process to enable fuel loads to be reduced while balancing environment and community concerns.
Most importantly, it will make it easier for landholders to reduce fuel loads by allowing approvals to be granted in a shorter time frame when a bushfire hazard management plan is in place.
It will also make landholders, both public and private, responsible for undertaking fuel reduction activities under a bushfire hazard management plan in order to keep the broader community safe.
The Government will also ensure we have more resources available this year - especially during the Autumn and Spring - to reduce our fuel loads.
We will create two new ‘fuel reduction’ teams, with 12 extra staff to reduce fuel loads across the State.
We will provide additional resources to help landowners plan and undertake fuel reduction activities.
We will provide more resources to the Parks and Wildlife Service to ensure we have winch-insertion capability for remote area fire teams within Tasmania so we can insert specialist fire fighters and respond quickly when needed.
We will begin the establishment of a new State Operations Centre in a central location from which all our emergency services may coordinate our response to emergencies.
We have already announced the creation of three new specialist Aboriginal ranger positions within Parks and the creation of a $100 000 pilot grant program to work with the Aboriginal community to draw on their expertise in fuel reduction and the maintenance of landscapes through cultural burning.
These measures will help landholders and communities better prepare for the next fire season – making Tasmanian communities safer and more resilient in the face of a changing climate.
But our response to climate change can’t be limited to adaptation and risk management - we also need to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Whilst Tasmania has a proud history of being a quiet leader on climate action, it is now time to showcase our innovation to the world and stake our claim as a renewables powerhouse.
Tasmania’s climate record is impressive:
- Tasmania was the first State in this country to have zero net emissions and we did that in 2016.
- Tasmania has the cleanest air in the world and some of the leading climate research institutions.
- Our greenhouse gas emissions have declined by 95 per cent from 1990 levels.
- The last greenhouse gas inventory shows that for the sixth year in a row we have met our legislated emissions reduction target.
- And we have the lowest per capita emissions of all States and Territories and are one of the lowest net emitters of carbon dioxide on the planet.
We have already set a target of zero net emissions by 2050 which is in line with other States targets.
Currently the Climate Change Act is under review and many submissions to that review have argued that our State - which already has such a low emissions profile - should set a more ambitious target.
However, any new target needs to be evidence based and informed by both science and economics.
Therefore, I have requested that central agencies DPAC and Treasury, in concert with DPIPWE and State Growth, conduct a detailed analysis of the pathway our state would need to take and the impacts on industry and jobs to achieve a target of zero net emissions prior to 2050.
This process will include targeted consultation with industry, the business sector and the community and will occur over the next 6 months.
The outcomes of the consultation will inform amendments to the Climate Change Act and Tasmania’s new Climate Action Plan for post 2021.
Whilst this detailed work is underway, we will ensure that we continue to lead the country on renewable energy.
We have already committed to being 100% renewable by 2022 and we are on track to meet this target.
However, we know this State is well placed to be far more ambitious.
Tasmania has the opportunity to ensure that the most compelling 21st century competitive advantage that industry and consumers want - renewable energy - underpins our economy in Tasmania, attracting investment, creating jobs and also supporting Australia transition to a renewable base load supply.
Today we are announcing a new renewables generation target of 200 per cent of our needs by 2040, which will see Tasmania double its renewable production.
Our new Renewable Energy Action Plan will be released in April and will ensure that Tasmania remains the renewable energy powerhouse of Australia.
An important part of this Plan will be capitalising on Tasmania’s competitive advantages to produce hydrogen for domestic use by 2022-24 and export by 2025-27.
Tasmania’s low cost and reliable renewable energy means that Tasmania is 10-15% more competitive than our mainland counterparts when it comes to attracting investment in “green hydrogen”.
To capitalise on this, we have announced a $50 million package of support measures over 10 years to bolster and fast track renewable hydrogen industry development in Tasmania.
This Government is also committed to helping mainland Australia reduce its emissions by exporting more renewable energy.
This will not only create new jobs and industries for Tasmania but will help meet the energy demands of the mainland whilst reducing Australia’s emissions.
We are currently progressing the Marinus link, which is set to underpin 1,400 new jobs in Tasmania, with up to 2,350 jobs also being created from further renewable energy investment and our nation-leading Battery of the Nation proposal.
The combined investment has the potential to inject $7.1 billion into the Tasmanian economy over the coming years – leaving no one in any doubt that Tasmania is in fact the battery of the nation.
Our net emissions profile is the envy of the nation and we are one of the lowest emitters in the world however there is more to be done.
This Government will do its part in reducing our emissions by leading by example.
Supported by this Government’s fourteen fast charging stations at 12 locations across the State (which will be installed this year) Tasmania’s EV network is now one of the best in the nation.
By building this EV network, Tasmanians and visitors can take advantage of our clean and affordable energy to travel across the entire state.
It is important that Government takes a leadership role in the use of low emissions vehicles and in this year’s budget we will begin to transition our fleet which currently has only around 3% in the low emissions category.
I have requested Treasury provide advice on an achievable, affordable but ambitious timeframe to transition us to a low emissions fleet.
The introduction of our Waste Action Plan and the delivery of a Container Refund Scheme by 2022 is also an important priority for this Government.
Work has already commenced on designing a model with input from interstate counterparts, the local community, businesses and industry and legislation to be introduced early next year.
Next year, we will also introduce a waste levy which will fund innovative reuse and recycling schemes and support co investment with recycling businesses that will improve our capture of recyclables and will also generate more jobs for Tasmanians.
We all know how hard drought is on our farmers, they understand the impacts of a changing climate better than anyone.
That’s why my Government – together with the Australian Government – is drought-proofing our farm sector by building nation leading irrigation infrastructure.
The proposed ten irrigation schemes in tranche three of the Pipeline to Prosperity will provide an additional 78,000 megalitres of water, injecting an estimated $114 million each year into the sector, and economy more broadly.
Along with the Australian Government we have already jointly committed $170 million to deliver at least the next five irrigation schemes.
Today, we take the next step and I am announcing the preferred option for the Don Irrigation Scheme – the first of the Tranche Three projects to progress to this stage.
The estimated $28.5 million project will deliver some 5000 mega litres of irrigation water to high quality agricultural land in the Don, Barrington and Sheffield areas in the North-West. And once fully operational and the water utilised, the scheme is expected to deliver 130 direct and indirect jobs.
Madam Speaker, in the budget, we committed to a record infrastructure investment of $3.6 Billion to build the infrastructure our growing state needs and to buffer the State’s economy from national and international headwinds.
This strategy has worked, confidence levels remain high, our economic growth leads the country, record numbers of jobs have been created and we are well placed to face new challenges as they emerge.
Tasmania’s population is growing at 1.2% per year. This is nearly double our long term rate and nearly four times faster than when we came to Government.
Although a growing population strengthens our economy, by introducing new skills, new ideas and greater diversity it also comes with the need for increased investment in infrastructure.
To ensure we can meet this challenge, we are investing record amounts into major infrastructure, including schools, hospitals, houses, roads, bridges, dams and our parks.
We have a strong pipeline of public work, stretching out for the next 10 years and beyond.
Tasmania’s world-class parks are critical part of Tasmania’s unique our brand and our international and national appeal.
But most of all for Tasmanians, they are specially-loved, and part of our way of life.
We will continue to invest in parks infrastructure to make them more accessible and enjoyable to Tasmanians and our visitors.
This Government will continue to invest significantly into our parks infrastructure, with $31 million committed this term.
That’s in addition to our $56.8 million commitment to Cradle Mountain, and our $20 million commitment to develop Tasmania’s new Iconic Walk.
The new Cradle Mountain Visitor Centre, is now complete.
Stage 2 will be completed by July 2020, and the Dove Lake Viewing Shelter will be completed in the latter half of 2021.
The preferred location for Tasmania’s Next Iconic Walk lies in the Tyndall Range on Tasmania’s West Coast and offers a potential multi-day walking experience and we expect the feasibility study will be completed in the first half of this year.
Our massive investment in infrastructure also underpins a record amount of new social and affordable housing.
Last year we completed and delivered 349 new social houses, with another 173 to be completed by the end of June this year and another 200 to be contracted over the next few months.
We’re expanding our emergency shelters, with 35 additional dwellings provided, including 18 single bedroom “pods” at Bethlehem House, 10 units for women and children at the Hobart Women’s Shelter and 7 family sized units also managed by the Hobart Women’s Shelter.
This year, we’ll also begin construction of 7 supported accommodation units for older men in the south, commence the Wirksworth development, providing much-needed residential care for the elderly in our community and expand the Magnolia House shelter in Launceston.
We will also begin the delivery of two new youth foyers for young people – one in Burnie and the other in Hobart– which will be built by 2022 with funding of $20 million to be provided in this year’s budget.
In addition $4.5m will be spent on Thyne House in Launceston and $2.2m on the Launceston Youth at Risk project.
However we know that there is even more to do and we will work hard every day to put rooves over the heads of people who need them most - whether it be the need for affordable housing or combatting homelessness, or for gaining access to your first home or downsizing.
We will continue key incentives to further boost home ownership.
We are extending, for a further two year period to June 2022 the First Home Owners Grant, which provides $20,000 for Tasmanians building their first home, as well as the Stamp Duty concession for eligible pensioners to downsize their home and the Stamp Duty concession for first home buyers of established homes.
However, we recognise that for many people home ownership can seem a distant ambition even with low interest rates and the incentives I have mentioned.
Our HomeShare program where the government provides an equity contribution and takes a share of the home as a silent partner has been very successful and around 200 Tasmanians on modest incomes now own their home through this program.
The Government will also increase the maximum government contribution available under the Government’s HomeShare program by 20% to a contribution of $100,000 and if you are eligible for the first home owners grant you could also receive an additional $20,000.
This means that the Government will provide a HomeShare recipient up to 30% of the value of a home to a maximum of $100 000 in equity, so that they will have lower interest payments and will find it easier to break into the market.
This means that eligible homebuyers will be able to purchase a home much easier and save on the repayments as well.
Today, I can also announce we will transfer the management of almost 2000 more Housing Tasmania-owned properties to not-for-profit Community Housing Providers.
This will give them the capacity to build close to 700 social and affordable homes over the next 20 years.
We will also be extending all management agreements to 2040, giving this sector and their tenants, long-term security.
In addition, and in response to urgent demand for more social housing, we will commit $22 million from the Housing Debt Waiver to build 220 new social and affordable houses by June 2023.
This adds to the more than 80 houses that will be built from the $12 million in Community Housing Provider Grants announced by this Government in December 2019.
Through these new commitments the Government will deliver an extra 1000 social and affordable houses, which is on top of our Affordable Housing Action Plan Targets.
I am also announcing that for this winter, the emergency housing brokerage services will remain uncapped so those that need emergency housing can access it. And we have also provided a further $150,000 for the Safe Night Space program which will enable it to continue throughout 2020.
Madam Speaker, we have the fastest growing economy in the country but we know that not everyone is able to grasp the opportunities it presents - so we are determined to help build the bridges that connect people to those opportunities through our strategic growth initiative.
We want Tasmanians regardless of their background, or where they live or their circumstances, to be able to grasp the opportunities that present.
We recently announced the continuation of the successful Sorell Employment Hub – a program that assisting local jobs seekers in the Sorell and South-East region, which was part of the Government’s Jobs Action Plan.
Over 100 people have secured local jobs as a direct result of the individualised focus, transport and training opportunities the Hub provides.
Another area, which is experiencing rapid growth is Glenorchy.
The NBL deal, the redevelopment of Wilkinson’s Point, the proposed MONA hotel, as well as the growing needs of local businesses and industry in the area like our state of the art ferry builders INCAT, will create enormous job opportunities for the people of Glenorchy.
To help local people capitalise on these new opportunities, we will establish a Glenorchy Jobs Hub, with funding of $1.3 million over two years, which will be included in this year’s Budget.
The Hub will provide support to those seeking a job, connecting them with local employers as well as the transport they need to get to work.
And as part of our ongoing strategic growth initiative, we are working with the George Town community with a $1 million package to support projects in that community.
We’ll continue to work with our community partners in the Derwent Valley, Break O’Day municipality and on the West Coast to ensure the programs we’ve begun are achieving the right outcomes for those communities.
Madam Speaker, health is a key priority for my Government.
We’ve seen investment in health grow year on year since we came to office in 2014.
To put this in context, the 2019-20 Budget for Health is now $650 million more than the last Labor-Green Budget in 2013-14.
That funding is supporting around 1,200 additional FTEs in our health system, including 872 in the past two financial years alone.
Today, Tasmania has a higher level of hospital staffing, per capita, than any other State in Australia.
We’ve also quarantined health from further efficiency dividends over the forward estimates – delivering a further $87 million into Health’s budget.
I am also pleased to announce we will be providing additional funding for Palliative Care Tasmania in our upcoming Budget of $500,000 per year, for the next two years.
Palliative Care Tasmania does outstanding work, and we know how important they are in our communities.
We also recognise that more Tasmanians are increasingly seeking support for their mental health.
The Government is delivering our $104 million new, best practice approach to the integration of mental health services.
This includes establishing a Mental Health Hospital Avoidance Program, which will aim to improve the model of care for those who find themselves in the ED.
The model will feature GP out-of-hours assistance, expanded crisis response functions, community-based alternatives to the ED for assessment and treatment 24/7, and expanded adult community mental health services.
Adult Community Mental Health services will be revised to enable the provision of best evidence-based case management and treatment for people living with complex needs.
We’ve already established a Mental Health Hospital in the Home program, and we’ll be developing an integrated suicide response that connects after care support with a community-based crisis response.
Community mental health facilities at St John’s Park and the Peacock will also become integration hubs, providing 27 new mental health short-term recovery beds, as well as opportunities for the co-location of social, housing, employment, disability and health services.
And the new wards at the Royal and LGH will, for the first time in Tasmania, provide dedicated child and adolescent mental health inpatient facilities.
The Government has listened to community mental health organisations and we understand the need for funding certainty to do the important work they do, and to provide workforce security.
Today I’m pleased to announce that future funding agreements will be over three years, allowing them to plan ahead with confidence and continue the great work that they do in our communities.
Madam Speaker, we understand that education is the passport to a better life – and every child deserves the best possible education.
Equity and inclusion are the heart of everything we do in education, and our new needs-based funding model for disability, which supports an additional 2,000 students, and our ground-breaking Working Together initiative for three year olds, providing free pre-school for young children who wouldn’t normally engage in early learning programs, reflect this.
Working Together is a nation-leading program and is being hailed by families as a great success.
Having excellent teachers to support our students is one of the key predicators of educational outcomes.
We’re reducing teacher workload, employing an extra 250 teachers, and re-shaping our education workforce, right around the State, and finding new ways to attract and develop quality teachers.
Our plan to extend all Government high schools to year 12 is working, with TCE attainment having increased by 10 per cent since we came to Government.
Packages of learning are an exciting new approach to keep individual students engaged with learning in years 9 and 10 and allow them to explore new pathways to vocational education and employment.
Last year five schools took part and this year these packages are being offered in 12 government schools and one non-government school.
We’ve increased funding and student places for TasTAFE, and that investment is paying off, with apprenticeship and traineeship starts increasing by 9.7 per cent, against a downward trend nationally.
We are investing record amounts into education to keep students engaged in learning and improve education outcomes.
And soon, we’ll be launching our new Adult Learning Strategy, to provide more opportunities to participate in work and life, promote lifelong learning and build stronger communities.
Investing in the wellbeing of children and young Tasmanians is critical for our State’s future; they are our next generation and the future of our State.
Today, I am announcing that in the upcoming Budget, we’ll be providing funding to commence Tasmania’s first ever comprehensive, long-term whole of government Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy.
It will not only include the first 1000 days of life, where there is very clear evidence that a good start from conception to age 2 is vitally important to a child’s development – but it will take them through to 25 years of age.
Another very important part of our agenda is working to ensure we keep our most vulnerable safe and we realise that more needs to be done on family and sexual violence.
In recent times there have been some distressing and shocking incidents of family violence both interstate and here in Tasmania.
It’s horrific incidents like this that remind us that we have a long way to go to change the attitudes that lead to such terrible, senseless and unforgivable acts of violence.
Since 2015, we have invested over $50 million in new funding to combat family violence, however we must ensure our efforts are geared towards making sure we can keep people - mainly women and their children - safe, and that perpetrators are held to account.
In the coming year we’ll also introduce a number of legislative reforms aimed at protecting victims and ensuring offenders are dealt with in a manner consistent with community expectations.
We have introduced legislation to amend Section 194k of the Evidence Act, to allow victims of sexual offences to speak out if they chose to, while providing appropriate safeguards and protections.
We will make legislative changes to the names of sexual crimes, especially those involving young people, to better reflect the true nature of those crimes.
Language used, for example, in the crime of “maintaining a sexual relationship with a young person” in no way reflects the gravity of that crime.
And we’ll also be tabling a Bill to enhance existing processes for dangerous criminal declarations, to ensure Tasmania’s most dangerous criminals are not released into the community, and create a second tier classification to ensure strong post-release conditions.
Furthermore, we have introduced legislation to address One Punch or Coward’s Punch incidents, sending a strong message these cowardly acts of violence will not be tolerated.
We will also continue to pursue our plan for mandatory sentencing for child sex offenders for those who commit serious assaults against our frontline workers, like correctional officers, ambulance officers, nurses, midwives, medical orderlies, hospital attendants and child safety officers.
Tasmanians on the frontline provide essential services to the community and any threatening behaviour, violence or aggression toward them is completely unacceptable.
All Tasmanians deserve to work in a safe environment and this Government will continue to support and protect them.
Madam Speaker, during our first term we worked hard to restore police numbers and our second term is about investing in an additional 125 police officers.
Last year, additional police were deployed to Launceston, Glenorchy, Bridgewater, Burnie, Devonport, St Helens, Smithton, the Firearms Service, and a new dog handler is now in place.
This year, new officers will go into Hobart, Launceston, Burnie, Sorell, Bruny Island, Kingston, Oatlands, George Town, Scottsdale, St Helens and Deloraine as well as the establishment of a new State-wide Crime Command, which will coordinate a whole of State approach to disrupting and preventing serious and organised crime.
Six specialist “ice” investigators will continue our war on ice-related drug activity, and four officers will start the first stage of our full-time Special Operations Group for rapid response and to support high-risk police operations.
Unfortunately crime will never be eliminated completely, but Tasmania remains one of the safest places to live in Australia and the world and this Government will keep working hard to keep it that way.
Madam Speaker, another priority for this Government is taking action on the cost of living.
In our latest budget we announced some of the most generous concessions in the country, providing $72.7 million in last year’s budget for concessions on electricity, water and sewerage and council rates.
In this year’s budget we’ll be extending the State’s first sports voucher system – Ticket to Play for a further four years to provide financial support to help families and their kids participate in sport when they otherwise may not have been able to do so.
We are also proud to announce that we will commit an additional $185,000 for Loaves and Fishes emergency food relief. This will allow this tremendous service to continue its fantastic work in both the North and the South of the State.
Tasmania’s rich and diverse heritage is an integral part of our life, treasured by the community and admired by visitors.
Conserving, protecting and re-imagining our heritage listed places is vitally important to their longevity and the future success of our tourism and hospitality industry.
It is now critical that we move to protect these assets and create vibrant experiences that respond to visitor and local expectations.
Today, I can announce that from 2023 onwards we will invest $1.5m pa from the increased revenues from Hotels and Clubs that the future gaming policy delivers, to support the National Trust and revitalise our unique heritage properties that drive visitation.
We will also ensure the Heritage Places Renewal Loans scheme is available to the National Trust Tasmania to continue their important work to conserve our built and natural heritage.
Madam Speaker, in conclusion this Government’s long term Plan for Tasmania has delivered this State with the fastest growing economy in the country, along with record numbers of new jobs.
We are investing record amounts into health, education, housing and infrastructure and to protect the most vulnerable.
The Government that I lead knows there is more to be done.
We will be a Government of conviction.
We will be a Government of compassion.
And, Madam Speaker, importantly we will work hard to ensure that Tasmanians wherever they live, whatever their circumstances and whatever their background will be supported to grasp the opportunities that our growing state now offers.