Cash for roads and shipping in Tasmanian Budget

Treasurer Gutwein slashes other spending and unveils Department of State Growth

Cash for roads and shipping in Tasmanian Budget
Peter Gutwein has announced major Budget reforms


Tasmanian Liberal treasurer Peter Gutwein’s first Budget slashes expenditure but there will still be cash for transport infrastructure and an international container shipping link to the state.

Within the State Government savings of $13.1 million in 2014-15, $17.7 million in 2015-16, $18.8 million in 2016-17 and $19.4 million in 2017-18 are sought through the creation of a super-department, the Department of State Growth, amalgamating the former Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources with the former Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts.

That and other public service moves were reportedly welcomed by the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) and the Tasmanian Small Business Council (TSBC), though the TCCI wanted more of the same.

"The roads program included in this Budget will see $733 million invested into the State's road network," Gutwein says.

With Federal cash, the Budget provides $197 million over four years to start upgrading the Midland Highway, the state’s major freight arterial.

"The North will benefit from the Midland Highway and North Eastern freight roads programs, the Murchison Highway has several major projects allocated and there are substantial works planned for the Huon, Rokeby and South Arm," Gutwein says.

Despite transport and logistics industry opposition, the State appears wedded to subsidising international containership calls.

"We will soon be in a position to announce arrangements for the return of international shipping to Tasmania and we have allocated $33 million in this Budget for that purpose," Gutwein says.

"The Budget also provides $3.2 million to establish Infrastructure Tasmania, an independent body that will provide expert advice on the future of Tasmania's infrastructure needs."

Infrastructure Tasmania will provide advice on rail, major roads and ports and coordinate infrastructure funding submissions to both the State and Australian Governments.

The Budget papers note that the Federal Budget has $119.6 million over five years for Tasmanian rail-freight revitalisation.

The State Budget will contribute $97 million over a five years to that and $22.6 million over 2016-17 to 2017-18 has been made pending Federal funding matching negotiations.

Gutwein will also look to gain dividends from Government businesses including TasPorts and seek integration of TasRail and TasPorts while retaining government ownership.

Funding for the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator of $1.2-$1.3 million annually will cease in 2017-18.

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