Will Hodgman

Premier of Tasmania

2018 CEDA State of the State Speech

Will Hodgman - Premier

23 November, 2018

I acknowledge the muwinina people, as original custodians of this land.

I thank CEDA for the opportunity to talk about Tasmania today.

Tasmania has had the fastest pace of economic growth, and is the best performing State.

Business conditions rank the highest in the nation.

Business confidence is the strongest of any State.

Consumer confidence is higher than all other states.

Export growth has skyrocketed, at three times the national average.

And Tasmania’s financial management is extremely strong.

It’s not me who has said those things.

It’s Deloitte, ANZ, Commsec, Sensis, Standard and Poor's and the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

This, is the State of the State.

There is a buzz about the place, and Tasmanians are feeling more optimistic about the future.

And it shows us that there is absolutely no reason why Tasmania can’t be the best in what we do.

But it’s not as good as it gets, and there is so much to do.

Now is certainly not the time to be complacent, or to put the brakes on.

Because our aim is for all Tasmanians to feel to benefits of such a strong economy.  That is our mission.

And there are still many Tasmanians who are not.

So we must continue to grow, because a strong economy is key to more Tasmanians enjoying a better quality of life.

And that’s why growing our economy has been such a focus of our plan, which we’ve delivered over the last four years, and which a majority Liberal Government was re-elected to continue delivering, at the election just 265 days ago.

And our economy isn’t just growing, it’s growing at the fastest rate in a decade.

It was just five or six years or so ago that the State was in recession.  Since then, it has grown by around 9 per cent.

There has been strong growth in household consumption.

Growth in retail trade, for 47 consecutive months.

Growth in our population.

Growth in business investment, at over 17 per cent.

Growth in investment in machinery and equipment of over 49 per cent - as local businesses are gearing up for continued growth.

Investment in Tasmania is leading the nation.

We are the only State to have growth in housing approvals, at ten times the national rate.

The highest growth in Private New Capital Expenditure in the country.

The highest growth in export growth, which continues to outstrip the nation, and is the highest over a decade.

The highest growth in international visitors - the highest number on record.

And the most Tasmanians employed.

Since we were first elected in March 2014, over 15,000 more Tasmanians are now in work.

Tasmania has gone from economic laggard to leader, and it hasn’t happened by luck.

This growth is fuelled by buoyant, enterprising Tasmanian businesses that are confidently investing, developing and employing.

My Government has certainly played its part by creating a more attractive business environment, and improving business conditions.

And it’s not just me saying it; according to the Sensis Business Index, we’ve got the highest ranking of business conditions in the country, the highest on record, and support for our policies. And we have delivered on our plan.

Firstly, we have fixed the Budget.

We have taken the Budget from deficits to surpluses, and are net debt free.

Just this week, Standard and Poor's have confirmed our strong financial management and strong Budget position.

This is so important, as it means we can invest more into health care, education, infrastructure and essential services for Tasmanians, as we are doing.

It also highlights the importance of our remaining committed to keeping expenditure growth under control, including affordable and fair public sector wages, which we will.

We have taken action to reduce business costs.

We’ve lowered payroll tax, to deliver the most competitive payroll tax regime in the country for small to medium businesses.

We’ve capped power prices to protect Tasmanian businesses from the volatility in the national electricity grid, and from massive price hikes in mainland states.

We are getting Tasmanian businesses more government work.

We have pump-primed our important building and construction sector, with incentives for people to buy and build a home, which is fuelling rapid growth in this great sector, and creating many new building jobs.

We have partnered with local government, the private sector, the community sector, and the University of Tasmania to bring forward major investments and initiatives across the state to not only build on our economic foundations, but also our social infrastructure.

And we are investing in public infrastructure across the state - into schools, hospitals, housing, roads and rail, which will improve the liveability and the productivity of our State.

And it will also generate more economic activity, and job opportunities over the coming decade.

We have developed the State’s first ten-year infrastructure pipeline, which maps out our planned infrastructure investments for government and the private sector that lie ahead, totalling $13.9 billion over the decade ahead.

It will provide a constantly evolving guide to the jobs we need to deliver the infrastructure our growing state needs.

And, as I’ve said before, there is no bigger infrastructure opportunity than in renewable energy.

It is one of our great competitive advantages, and our vision is to make our State the nation’s renewable energy battery.

To secure our energy supply; keep power prices down; and inject our valuable renewable energy into an unreliable national grid, and massively increase our revenue base.

We are building new wind farms, progressing new pumped hydro schemes, and building the case for a second interconnector as critical national infrastructure.

This plan will deliver billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs in over the next 10-15 years, in a state that we will make, by 2022, one hundred per cent renewable.

On competitive advantages, another one – and one of our most valuable assets – is our brand.

We know from research that Tasmania’s brand is strong, but it can be strengthened and protected by a greater collaboration across government, brand leaders, the private sector and our community.

We passed through our House of Assembly last night, legislation to establish a new statutory authority that will build on the work of our Brand Council, and give it the resources and capability to ensure we continue to stand out from the crowd, and to compete in the global market place to attract more tourists, students, investment, trade, and talent.

And there has never been a better time to amp up our brand, while interest in our place, our products and our people is so strong.

We aren’t waiting to be discovered anymore, we are taking Tasmania to the world.

Now is the time to grab these opportunities.  But if we become complacent, our competitors will get ahead of us.

And worse, if we actually send a message we want to turn tourists, and investment, and development away, it will happen.

And if we are constantly changing the goalposts or interfering with process, it will damage the confidence and the desire to invest here we are now seeing.

So again, I say, if developers can jump all the hurdles that governments throw up, and pass all the independent environmental and planning tests, they should get that ‘social licence’.

I believe that if they do, they have the support of most Tasmanians. They will certainly have the support of my government.

But I do also firmly believe that we must protect all that is special about our precious island home.

It is what has turned the eyes of the world onto us.

We must strike the right balance between continuing to drive growth and preserving what makes Tasmania so remarkable; our precious quality of life.

And we must find those ways to ensure all Tasmanians are feeling the benefits of a strong economy, and that no one is left behind.

To unlock the full potential in our regional communities, and ensure economic growth is spread across all our State.

To ensure Tasmanians are well educated, and given their best shot in life, and to have the first opportunity to fill the jobs of a growing economy.

We need to look beyond the horizon, and to develop what you might call an inclusive growth strategy.

And the best way we will do that is by working together.

My government will continue to lead and show great confidence and belief in Tasmania and our future.

We have over a hundred policies, plans and strategies, across government that we took to the election, and that we are getting on with the job of delivering.

And our plan is delivering results.

I have always said that no government has all the answers.

And now is the perfect opportunity to develop that strategy that brings our community together to deliver this vision.

And that is what we will do.