Decline halts, but growth years away: report

TASMANIA'S economy has stopped falling, but it is still several years away from solid growth, according to an economic report released today.

The Deloitte Access Economics report said the state's economic indicators had picked up for the second half of 2013, adding, "but then again, it would have been hard for them to be worse."

"Retail was rotten, housing construction was horrid, and business investment went backwards," the report said.

It said Tasmania would feel some relief in the next few years from lower interest rates and a lower exchange rate, but Deloitte partner Chris Richardson said it would take 15 to 20 years before the state experienced growth strong enough to lift it off the bottom of the national economic league table.

"The exchange rate has been a foot on the throat of the Tasmanian economy," he said.

Mr Richardson said changes to the coastal shipping policy that could flow from a promised national review could also have a positive effect on Tasmania.

The report predicts modest growth in housing and retail over the next few years, and a short-term spike in private commercial construction, but adds that "without public money supporting a small number of health projects, commercial construction activity in the state would be as rare as the Tasmanian tiger."

Premier Lara Giddings said the report predicted a 2.5 per cent growth in Gross State Product for this financial year, which would be the state's best result for five years.

"With a falling exchange rate and low interest rates, Tasmania is seeing a solid pick- up in housing construction and retail expenditure," Ms Giddings said.

"Indeed, growth in our retail sector is now outpacing the nation."

Opposition treasury spokesman Peter Gutwein said the report showed Tasmania could not afford another four years of a minority Labor government.


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