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Caring for Tasmanians most in need

Thu 17 May 2012

Lara Giddings

Premier

The Premier, Lara Giddings, said the Budget would build on the State Government's core commitment to assist Tasmanians most in need.

"This Budget has a strong head, which is determined to steer us out of financial challenges, but it also has a heart which is committed to prioritising care and support for Tasmanians most in need," Ms Giddings said.

"That commitment is demonstrated in our immediate action to halve the expected energy increase from July 1, which will save households more than $200 a year.

"These measures will cost around $37 million per annum through reduced returns from electricity businesses and will make Tasmania's energy increase under the carbon tax the second lowest in the country."

Ms Giddings said the State Government was also boosting energy concessions to eligible Tasmanian pensioners and Health Care Card holders by $11.7 million in 2012-13, and $46.9 million over the Forward Estimates. The concession program will provide relief of about $450 off the power bills of 78,000 eligible recipients in the coming financial year.

"In total, the measures we are taking to reduce the electricity price burden on Tasmanian households will amount to $301 million over the next four years.

"Of course, we recognise that any energy increase will still impact on low income Tasmanians, which is why we are investing in a range of initiatives that don't just provide a hand-out to struggling households, but help to break the cycle of disadvantage.

"One of the most compelling arguments for selling TOTE Tasmania was that it would give us some flexibility to fund initiatives identified in Professor David Adams' Cost of Living report.

"As I have previously foreshadowed, the sale of the betting agency has allowed us to allocate a further $5 million over the next two years to assist vulnerable Tasmanians."

"This is targeted investment that would not have been possible if the Liberals had been successful in trying to block the sale of TOTE."

The new funding will include:

- $1 million to be spent in partnership with local community groups to help ensure low-income Tasmanians, children, older people and isolated communities have access to healthy and nourishing food.

- $2 million over two years for the Housewarming Program to provide energy saving advice and practical measures such as draught-proofing, better curtains and helping with the purchase of heat pumps and other energy efficient heaters.

- $2 million over the next two years to ensure vulnerable Tasmanians can access financial counselling and local assistance before their problems reach crisis point.

The $1 million would be used to implement the recommendations of the Government's Food Security Strategy, including encouraging better partnerships between emergency food relief providers, investing in better storage infrastructure and expanding food security services in North West Tasmania.

The Housewarming Program will fund community sector organisations to deliver housewarming boxes to struggling clients containing food, vital household supplies and items to prevent heat loss over winter, such as door snakes, draught seals and warm curtains.

"These funds will complement the $2 million announced in last year's Budget for the Emergency Relief Fund and for food relief through community organisations such as Foodbank and Second Bite and Produce to the People," Ms Giddings said.

Ms Giddings also announced a further $1 million to build on the $5 million allocated last year to assist Housing Tasmania tenants make their homes more efficient and to decrease their power bills.

"I hope that the range of initiatives announced today, building on the additional funding provided last year, will help make this winter a little less difficult for many Tasmanians."


Caring for Tasmanians most in need