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Tas Liberal government to deliver budget

Road and bridges will headline Tasmania’s 2022/23 state budget, which also includes a sizeable splash on digital health upgrades.

Liberal Treasurer Michael Ferguson will on Thursday hand down his maiden budget after taking on the role from former premier Peter Gutwein, who unexpectedly quit politics in early April.

Funding for road infrastructure will increase from $2 billion to $2.7 billion across four years of forward estimates.

It includes $786 million in joint state and federal funding for a long-awaited new Bridgewater Bridge north of Hobart which is expected to be in operation by the end of 2024.

Mr Ferguson described the bridge as the largest transport infrastructure project in Tasmania’s history.

“(It was) supported by the (Scott) Morrison government, which has changed hands,” he told state parliament on Wednesday.

“Under the (Anthony) Albanese (Labor) government … we’ll be working collaboratively … to ensure that commitment is honoured. I have no doubt it will be.”

Updated figures released in February show the state’s finances have improved.

An expected deficit of $690 million in 2021/22 has been reduced to $605 million, with revenue increasing partly due to greater GST receipts.

The 2021/22 budget papers predicted a return to surplus, of $39 million, in 2023/24.

The latest Deloitte Access Economics Business Outlook, released in April, rated Tasmania’s economy as the best of any state or territory for the ninth quarter in a row.

The state government has already made several funding announcements in the past week.

Some $150 million over four years will be spent on upgrading the health system’s digital infrastructure to enable better sharing of patients’ information and improve access to services.

More than $36 million over four years will go towards child safety measures in response to an independent review of the education department’s handling of historical abuse allegations.

Tasmania is holding a commission of inquiry into state government handling of child sex abuse allegations which has heard complaints have fallen on deaf ears.

Tourism Tasmania will also receive a $10 million boost to “accelerate” the industry’s pandemic recovery.

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