The Tasmanian government will be almost $40 million out-of-pocket for COVID-19 related health expenditure this financial year, a Parliamentary committee has heard.
Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee's inquiry into the government's economic and health expenditure response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Monday, Premier-Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the Department of Health was forecasting COVID-related expenditure at $82.5 million for the 2019-20 financial year.
Mr Gutwein said $39.3 million of this would be reimbursed under the National Partnership Agreement signed with the Federal government, of which $2.1 million was received up front.
"The government signed a NPA whereby what was agreed was all COVID-related expenditure outside the National Health Reform Agreement would be shared on a 50-50 basis," he said.
"There are some matters where the Federal government will take a higher level of funding responsibility, for example with nursing homes."
In other news:
Murchison independent MLC Ruth Forrest questioned who would be responsible for paying for the AUSMAT team and Australian Defence Force personnel who assisted in the deep-clean of the North West Regional Hospital and North West Private Hospital.
"The AUSMAT team is a standing item of the Federal government's architecture and in terms of salaries, those matters are already budgeted for. We won't be reimbursing military salaries, I don't expect," Mr Gutwein said.
"If there were any costs that need to be met they would be captured by the NPA."
Mr Gutwein said he imagined the state government would pay for the other half of the cost of cleaning the private hospital.
He took a number of matters, including a request for a timeline of the government's decisions and questions over the cost of the deep-clean of the NWRH and NWPH, on notice.
Speaking outside the committee, Labor finance spokesman David O'Byrne said the Premier's failure to answer basic details relating to the pandemic response highlighted a need for more Parliamentary scrutiny.
"The Premier should have been able to answer every question asked of him but was instead either not across the detail or not willing to share it," Mr O'Byrne said.
"Instead, Peter Gutwein's response to any scrutiny of the government's response to COVID-19, in particular the North-West outbreak, was to palm it off to Director of Public Health or the State Controller."
Mr Gutwein said the government had been fully transparent with the Tasmanian community throughout the coronavirus challenge and it welcomed the opportunity to engage with the committee.
The committee also heard the state's projected financial-hit from COVID-19 outlined by Mr Gutwein in an Economic and Fiscal Update Report in May would be different than predicted.
"The early indication is, for example, for stamp duty which we had written down considerably I'd expect that we'd be writing stamp duty up considerably. The impact that we first foresaw on payroll tax may not be as deep as we initially expected," Mr Gutwein said.
"The broad view, at a national level, is that our economy will do better than other economies around the world."
Mr Gutwein said the government would publish the Preliminary Outcomes Report and provide another Economic and Fiscal Update on August 14, and would publish the Treasurer's Annual Financial Report for 2019-20 by October 31 ahead of the November 12 budget.