Tasmania Greens' budget to save axed public sector jobs

Kim Booth

Kim Booth

THE Tasmanian Greens have produced an alternative budget aimed at saving 700 public sector jobs and returning the state's economy to surplus in six years.

Greens leader Kim Booth said the economic blueprint would fund $239 million worth of the party's election commitments, wipe out poker machines within five years and focus on a structural review of the state's bottom line.

Among the Greens' big ticket savings items was scrapping $33million that the Liberals promised to reintroduce a direct international shipping service, turfing $24 million of irrigation funding and squeezing Hydro Tasmania for a $220 million dividend over the forward estimates.

They would also cut in half money promised by the government to extend rural and regional high schools to year 12 and defer some road funding.

Mr Booth said many roads flagged for funding favoured specific industries over public motorists, and that some existing irrigation schemes were unnecessary or excessive.

Pay and conditions of the state's 25,000 public servants would be protected on the Greens' spending side of the ledger, the Integrity Commission reimbursed $3.1 million slashed from its budget and the Climate Action Council restored.

The party would also bankroll a $5 million finance and taxation review tasked with addressing the state's unfunded superannuation liability, government business enterprise debts and a shake-up of state taxes.

"The elephant in the room the Liberals ignored in their budget is the long-term structural changes needed to the Tasmanian economy," Mr Booth said.

"That included about $5.5 billion in unfunded superannuation liability that is accruing every year."

Treasurer Peter Gutwein said yesterday that the state's budget would need to return to surplus before the superannuation burden could be properly addressed.

"Until we're actually back in the black it's very difficult to start paying down that liability," Mr Gutwein said.

He maintained Tasmania's finances would not be put at risk in the interim.

Mr Gutwein claimed Labor was "too lazy or incompetent" to produce its own costed alternative budget, offering up a mock alternative that he said revealed whopping consecutive deficits.

But Opposition Leader Bryan Green hit back, saying the document was produced by a government "dirt unit" and Mr Gutwein was wasting his time.

Opposition education spokeswoman Michelle O'Byrne said Labor would be honest and strategic in its response to the state budget, pointing out both "significant flaws and opportunities" in its budget reply today.

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