I am a very proudly recently re-elected Premier of a majority Liberal Government in Tasmania
Elected for a second term, only the second time that has happened for the Liberal Party in Tasmania’s history.
Now firstly, apologies if I might at times, sound a little immodest today; but there is a lot to be excited about in Tasmania.
In fact - I might say - that there has never been a more exciting time to be a Tasmanian!
And frankly I am like so many Tasmanians these days, much prouder and more confident about our future.
Tasmania is now a very different place to what is was just a few years ago, and we are embracing it.
Yes, Tassie is little quirky; it is inimitable; it is now very cool.
We are the home of the best private art gallery, the best golf course, and best whisky in the world.
But I am - like so many Tasmanians these days - much more confident about our State’s future and its place in our nation.
For under my Government Tasmania has the strongest performing in the country.
Our State Final Demand is well above the national average.
Our export sector has had the largest growth in the country - three times above of the next closest State.
And we are the number one State importing international tourists. Tasmania’s tourism industry is the best performing in the country.
Business investment has rocketed - up 16% - and again, way above the national average.
And business confidence is the highest in the country.
Sensis Business Survey even reports that my Governments is “the most popular in the country”.
I think you can understand why I am bursting with pride.
This week we released the fifth State Budget of Tasmania’s majority Liberal Government.
In our first term - we returned a Labor Budget we inherited, with over a billion dollars in deficits, to surplus - 4 years earlier than expected - and delivered the best financial result in a decade.
And in this year’s Budget - we will deliver surpluses for the next four years.
And we are the only State in the country that is net debt free.
So for those mainlanders who may have once talked of Tasmania as a backwater, or even worse , as “a mendicant State”, don’t even think about it.
We are a stronger, prouder, more confident place. But we are also still the nation’s smallest state.
And while I each day I thank heaven’s for the fact that around 10,000 years ago Tasmania broke free from mainland Australia, we are home to just over half a million people who - as citizens of our Federation - are deserving of the same the same public services available for people who live in larger States.
That is the essence of horizontal fiscal equalisation.
It ensures the smaller States have the capacity to deliver services to its residents equivalent to those in other States.
Under my Government we have reduced hospital waiting lists to the lowest levels on record
And we are rapidly lifting our school results through significant reforms to our education system;
And this years Budget contains a record investment in State-building infrastructure.
And we have managed our finances well; we have constrained expenditure growth and returned to surpluses.
So it would be fundamentally unfair to now penalise Tasmania because other States have not done so.
Tasmania deserves its fair share of the GST - and we will any fight any government from anywhere who threatens that.
But, can I also say, that we will also do our bit to help build our nation.
Tasmania is the nation’s renewable energy State. We are already 90% fuelled by the cleanest water and the freshest air in the world.
And our goal is to be - by 2022, the end of our second term in government - 100% renewable. And we want to sell our excess energy into the national grid.
In partnership with the Commonwealth we have been working to identify a number of high potential pumped hydro opportunities around the Tasmania, leveraging off our substantial hydropower system already in place.
Early modelling shows the construction of these projects could create up to $5 billion of investment and around 3000 jobs in regional Tasmania over 10 to 15 years.
And they strengthen the case for more interconnection across Bass Strait, which Infrastructure Australia has listed as a national priority project.
That would unlock the full potential of Tasmanian hydro and wind but also provide one of the achievable and competitive solutions to Australia's energy challenge.
It would put downward pressure on prices for customers across the National Electricity Market and provide stable, secure and reliable energy supply to the NEM. And it would help significantly to meet Australia’s energy targets and carbon reduction commitments.
It is state-building and nation-leading - and it would cement Tasmania’s position as the country’s clean, reliable and affordable energy powerhouse.
That’s the sort of vision and ambition we now have on the island state. And it’s a combined ambition of a Tasmanian Liberal Government, working very closely with the Turnbull Coalition Government to deliver for Tasmania.
But we now have another election to win; a by-election to return Brett Whiteley in Braddon. Brett has a proven track record - and he will again be able deliver for the people of Braddon as a member of the Turnbull Coalition Government.
And this is another election campaign we can win.
We won the state election campaigning strongly on our record, and on the strength of our economy.
We said we would fix the Budget, and we did. We said we would kick-start the economy, and we have.
And of course, our Party well understands that a strong economy is critical to our future prosperity.
That it is the reason why we are now able to invest more into our schools; our hospitals; and the infrastructure our growing State needs.
And I think also that most people also understand that a strong economy is critical for a brighter future.
It’s the driving force behind Tasmania’s resurgence.
And it is one of the key reasons why we won a second term of government.
And it’s central to our plan to now take Tasmania to the next level.