Today’s Treasury report paints a bleak picture of our economy and budgetary situation.
The coronavirus has brought to the world, our country and our state both a health crisis and an economic crisis.
While it was only in March 2020 our economy was the envy of the nation, it was imperative we move to protect Tasmanian lives and take the action we did to restrict the movement of people to contain the virus.
As we recover in safe steps, we will need to work together to rebuild our Tasmania.
We have climbed that mountain once before, and we will do it again.
Rebuilding our economy and budget from 2014 when we first came to Government, was a significant challenge which we overcame, delivering budget surpluses and taking Tasmania to the fastest growing economy in the country, equal with Victoria.
Rebuilding it from the coronavirus is our next challenge – but together, we will do it.
With a strong balance sheet heading into the coronavirus challenge, we will bolster our economy, target areas for growth and use the strength of our balance sheet to underpin our recovery.
We are going to build ourselves out of this, no ifs no buts.
That is why I have announced today that in the coming weeks and months we lay out the most aggressive construction program in Tasmania’s history.
This week I have tasked Treasury to do an immediate review of the State’s $3.7 billion infrastructure program and identify projects that can be brought forward and commenced swiftly.
Projects like affordable houses, maintenance on schools and Government buildings, regional roads, bridges and dams.
I’ve discussed this strategy with the Chair of the Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council who is strongly supportive of this strategy to provide an immediate injection into the economy and to create jobs.
I expect to announce the re-profiled construction and infrastructure program within coming weeks. This will be the first major step in our rebuild program.
During this time of recovery and rebuild we will also be backing business to do what they do best – investing, innovating, and most importantly employing their fellow Tasmanians.
Our state’s traditional strengths have not gone away, but nor have our more recent growth areas.
So as part of our Plan to rebuild Tasmania, we will focus on our strengths in sectors that underpin our economy.
Along with construction we will focus on agriculture, our visitor economy, aquaculture, renewable energy, advanced manufacturing, skills and education, as well as trade.
We are already drought-proofing our farm gate value by building nation leading irrigation infrastructure.
We will seek to harness our new renewable energy advantage, and our Renewable Energy Action Plan released this week will ensure that Tasmania remains the renewable energy powerhouse of Australia.
We will re-boot our visitor economy, and already Tourism Tasmania is developing a Recovery Response Plan that will position our State and its offerings in the hearts and minds of Tasmanian, national and international travellers in readiness for when it’s safely time for our borders to be relaxed.
And we will look forward to receiving the ideas of the Tasmanian community through the Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council, to identify further opportunities for our state.
The work of the Recovery Council will help to inform the development of the State Budget 20-21, which will now be delivered on 12 November.
Through all of this, we will remain focused on one key aim and that is to get our society back to normal and the thousands of Tasmanians who have lost their jobs back into productive work.
Having people back in work will strengthen our social fabric and we are committed to continuing to support our community organisations so that we recover both economically and socially.
I know it won’t be easy, COVID-19 will be with us for some time yet, but we know this strategy will work.
We have rebuilt our economy once before, we have had the most confident businesses and the most engaged community, and we will do it again.
These are challenging times, but since coming to Government in 2014, we have built the foundations for sustainable, strong economic and jobs growth for our state.
And by working together, we will rebuild what we’ve lost, we will strengthen our community, we will regain our confidence, we will once again have a strong growing economy, the jobs it supported and get back our Tasmanian way of life.
Together, we will rebuild a stronger Tasmania.