Jobs and services slashed in Tasmanian budget

August 27, 1997

Jobs and services slashed in Tasmanian budget

By Tony Iltis

HOBART — Since coming to power, the Rundle Liberal government has overseen the destruction of 10,000 jobs. The state budget handed down on August 14 is set to continue the failed strategy of cutting jobs and services and giving handouts to business.

Included in the budget are:

  • plans to part sell the Hydro, specifically the transmission and distribution networks, which Rundle dismisses as "poles and wires".

  • the slashing of $23 million and 300 jobs from the health sector, on top of cuts of $28 million and 812 jobs in last year's budget. There are also attacks on rural hospitals which would mean more job losses.

  • the cutting of $0.5 million from the Metro bus service.

  • amalgamation of local councils with cuts to, and contracting out of, council services.

  • $24 million in tax cuts and infrastructure handouts to business.

Media reaction to the budget has been surprisingly subdued. The August 15 Mercury reported it with predictable praise but since then has been largely silent.

This in striking contrast to the hype given to the pre-budget business wish-list, the Nixon report. The August 20 Mercury published a poll showing that the majority of Tasmanians opposed the Hydro part sale.

If the budget is to be passed in the House of Assembly, it will need the support of the four Green MHAs. Unfortunately, Greens leader Christine Milne has been quoted in the Mercury as saying they would support the budget because "to vote against a Budget means you have weeks and months of insecurity."

What this position forgets is that this would merely be insecurity in parliament. For increasing numbers of people, unemployment, under-employment and lack of services mean a lifetime of insecurity. Voting for Rundle's budget would be contributing to this.

The Democratic Socialist Party and Resistance have received a positive response to a petition which:

  • opposes the Hydro sale, the cuts and the handouts to the rich;

  • demands that health and public transport be expanded and that the Hydro be made democratically accountable and socially and environmentally responsible.

  • calls on the Greens oppose the budget in parliament and work together with other environment and social justice groups and individuals to build a campaign against it.

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