Budget fears for Tasmanians

MANY Tasmanian-based public servants and welfare recipients would have had a sleepless night as the Coalition prepares to hand down what's expected to be a tough federal budget tonight.

Tasmanian Council of Social Service chief executive Tony Reidy said it was clear the federal government had the most vulnerable people in society in its sights by tightening eligibility for disability and aged pension payments and raising the pension age. 

``Moves in this direction, such as co-payments for a GP visit,  have a disproportionate impact on Tasmania due to the high reliance on benefits, ageing population and people on disability payments,'' Mr Reidy said.

Commonwealth payments are the primary source of income for a third of Tasmanian households.  

Mr Reidy questioned the federal government's strategy and urged the government to start a broader discussion on taxation and expenditure. 

Community and Public Sector Union secretary Tom Lynch said workers at the Tasmanian offices of the Australian Taxation Office, Centrelink and CSIRO were expecting bad news.  

``Certainly for federal public servants, I think they'll be extremely nervous,'' Mr Lynch said. 

However, Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Michael Bailey said Tasmanians were more accustomed to the need for governments to cut costs due to successive tight state budgets. 

``I have a feeling Tasmanians will cope with this budget better than elsewhere where it will come as more of a shock,'' Mr Bailey said.

Mr Bailey said the test would be for the federal government to explain the reasons behind the tough measures. 

``If we don't cut our budget it will never get any easier,'' Mr Bailey said.

``This is the first step to setting up Australia as competitive and more productive.''


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