1    The 2016-17 Budget

Key Issues

·       The 2016-17 Budget reflects the Government's commitment to return the Budget to surplus, achieving this commitment three years ahead of the original target date of 2019-20. Over the Budget and Forward Estimates period, a cumulative operating surplus of around $43 million is forecast and the Budget also forecasts a return to fiscal surplus of around $17 million in 2019‑20. The return to Budget surplus represents a further step in the implementation of the Government's Fiscal Strategy and has been achieved through responsible financial management and notwithstanding the recent loss of over half a billion dollars in GST revenue.

·       The 2016-17 Budget continues the Government's focus on meeting the financial challenges it faces while also providing significant support to the Government's key policy priorities of:

-  improving health services;

-  supporting education;

-  protecting the vulnerable;

-  jobs, infrastructure and economic growth; and

-  implementing Agenda 2016.

·       The current Forward Estimates make it clear that to deliver and improve on these forecast outcomes the Government must continue to constrain expenditure to those areas of greatest need and ensure ongoing expenditure is not committed on the basis of uncertain revenues. It is only through an ongoing rigorous approach to the management of both revenue and expenditure that funding can continue to be provided on a sustainable basis to support community services, grow the economy, create jobs and develop essential infrastructure.

·       The Government has maintained its strong commitment to investing in Tasmania's infrastructure by allocating $1.8 billion over the 2016-17 Budget and Forward Estimates period to building Tasmania's infrastructure. This includes $457 million for the Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment; $656.3 million for road projects; $113 million for schools and education; $60 million for affordable housing; and $90 million for the Northern Cities Major Development Initiative.

·       Tasmania's economy continues to recover after several years of weak economic activity. Business confidence is amongst the highest in the country, household spending is showing strong growth, private investment is maintaining its recovery, the tourism industry is buoyant and Tasmania's international exports have returned to growth, after an extended subdued period. In 2015‑16 Tasmania's economy is expected to grow by 2½ per cent which would be the strongest growth rate since 2007-08 and above Tasmania's long term trend of around two per cent growth. For 2016-17, economic growth is forecast to remain above the long‑term trend at 2¼ per cent.


Background

The 2016-17 Budget is the third Budget to be tabled by the Government. This Budget represents a further step in the improvement of the Government's financial position as, for the first time since 2008-09, a surplus is being estimated for the current Budget year. The forecast achievement of a surplus is three years ahead of the Government's target of a surplus in 2019-20.

In the 2014-15 Budget the Government announced its Fiscal Strategy. The establishment of the Government's Fiscal Strategy reflected a response to a deteriorating Government financial position with operating expenditure growing at a greater rate than operating revenues and a significant expected deterioration in the level of General Government Net Debt. The Government also committed to returning the Budget to a surplus position within six years. The actual Net Operating Balance for 2014-15 was a deficit of $57 million compared to the original estimate of a deficit of $286 million; an improvement of $229 million.

The 2015-16 Budget forecast a significant improvement in the Net Operating Balance over the Budget and Forward Estimates period. This included a reduction in the estimated deficit for 2015-16 and a return to surplus in 2016-17. In addition to improving the Budget outcome, the 2015-16 Budget also included the implementation of a number of important new initiatives relating to rebuilding health and education services; supporting jobs and economic growth; supporting the North and North West and implementing the Government's 365 Day Plan.

Since the 2015-16 Budget, the Government has allocated additional funding to high priority initiatives to protect Tasmania's most vulnerable through implementing Tasmania's Affordable Housing Strategy and the Family Violence Action Plan. The Budget has also been affected as a result of the significant costs associated with fighting the bushfires that spread across large areas of the State in the early part of 2016. At the present time, $31 million has been allocated to fund these essential costs. Most significantly, however, the Budget position has been adversely affected by the loss of over $500 million in GST receipts over the Budget and Forward Estimates period and a write down in the level of returns from Hydro Tasmania due to the impact of the combination of record low inflows into the hydro system and the unprecedented prolonged outage of the Basslink interconnector with mainland Australia.

From an economic perspective, the Tasmanian economy continues to recover after several years of weak economic activity. Business confidence is amongst the highest in the country, household spending is showing strong growth, private investment is maintaining its recovery, the tourism industry is buoyant and Tasmania's international exports have returned to growth, after an extended subdued period. In 2015‑16, Tasmania's economy is expected to grow by 2½ per cent which would be the strongest growth rate since 2007-08 and above Tasmania's long term trend of around two per cent growth. For 2016-17, economic growth is forecast to remain above the long‑term trend at 2¼ per cent.


 

2016-17 Budget Priorities

The 2016-17 State Budget continues the Government's commitment to establishing a sustainable Budget position while supporting the delivery of vital services to the Tasmanian community.

Key priorities being implemented as part of the 2016-17 Budget are detailed below. Further information on key deliverables for all government agencies is provided in individual agency chapters of Government Services Budget Paper No 2.

Meeting Budget Challenges

The Government's commitment to the achievement of its Fiscal Strategy is clear. Notwithstanding the loss of over half a billion dollars in GST revenue, a surplus of $77.3 million is forecast to be achieved in 2016-17. Small budget surpluses are also forecast for 2017-18 and 2019-20, although a deficit is forecast for 2018‑19.

While the forecast of Budget surpluses provides evidence of the action that has been taken by the Government to date, the Government must continue to constrain expenditure to those areas of greatest need. Recent experience in relation to GST estimates has particularly emphasised the significant variation that can occur in revenue estimates, both positive and negative, on a year by year basis. Given that GST receipts account for over 40 per cent of Budget revenue, even a relatively small change in the factors that determine these estimates can have a significant impact on the Budget outcome. It is therefore essential that a cautious approach is taken to the allocation of ongoing expenditure against highly variable revenue levels. The maintenance of expenditure within the low level of revenue growth currently expected over the Budget and Forward Estimates period will be a particular challenge for the Government.

It is only through a responsible approach to the management of the State Budget that funding will be able to be provided on a sustainable basis to support community services, grow the economy and develop essential infrastructure.

Improving Health Services

The 2016-17 Budget continues to build on the significant additional funding provided in the 2015-16 Budget (including $100 million over four years for frontline health services and $24 million to provide improved patient transport and coordination) through the provision of an additional $50 million over the 2016-17 Budget and Forward Estimates period. This includes funding to support the One State, One Health System, Better Outcomes reforms, Healthy Tasmania and Mental Health Priorities and meeting the costs of ambulance officers.

Additional infrastructure funding of $12.7 million is provided over the Budget and Forward Estimates period to support the Royal Hobart Hospital Pharmacy Redevelopment Project ($3.8 million), Launceston General Hospital Ward 4K Upgrades ($7.9 million) and the St Helens District Hospital Project ($1.1 million). Funding is also provided for the Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment Project which is the largest health infrastructure project undertaken in the State.


 

Supporting Education

Education continues to be a high priority for the Government. The Budget provides both ongoing and new support for the implementation of broad reforms to improve educational outcomes for the Tasmanian community.

·       Over the Budget and Forward Estimates period the Government will continue to fully meet its commitment to provide $134 million over six years to implement the Students First education reforms.

·       The Government has provided funding to support the extension of 30 high schools to Year 11 and 12 in regional and rural communities by 2018.

·       The Government is continuing to undertake consultation in relation to significant changes to the Education Act 1994.

In addition to these initiatives, the Government will also allocate $3 million in funding to implement an important program to combat bullying in our schools.

To further support Tasmanian students, over the 2016-17 Budget and Forward Estimates period, the Government will provide additional funding of $50 million to support the redevelopment of a number of schools, colleges and TasTAFE facilities. This will include new infrastructure projects at 14 Tasmanian primary schools, high schools and colleges, as well as new investment in important training infrastructure. This brings the total investment in education infrastructure over four years to a total of $113 million.

Protecting the Vulnerable

During 2015-16, the Government announced two significant new initiatives to better protect the vulnerable in the Tasmanian community. These were the Tasmanian Affordable Housing Strategy and the Family Violence Action Plan. The 2016-17 Budget builds on this strong commitment to helping vulnerable Tasmanians through the allocation of significant funding to these and other important initiatives.

·       Affordable Housing ‑ An additional $60 million will be provided over three years to implement the Government's Affordable Housing Strategy. This is in addition to the funding of $13.5 million that was provided in 2015-16 and will enable the delivery of 941 new homes and housing for 1600 vulnerable Tasmanian households.

·       Child Protection ‑ Funding of $20 million is being provided over four years through the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education to support the implementation of the 29 recommendations from the Strong Families ‑ Safe Kids Report into the redesign of the child protection system.

·       Family Violence - The Safe Homes, Safe Families: Tasmania's Family Violence Action Plan 2015-2020 represents an unprecedented investment in prevention and early intervention, as well as holding perpetrators to account. The 2016-17 Budget includes $22 million of the $25.6 million in new funding that was announced to support the implementation of the Plan in August 2015.

·       Mental Health ‑ An additional $3 million will be provided over four years to implement initiatives identified within the Rethink Mental Health Plan and Tasmanian Suicide Prevention Strategies.

·       National Disability Insurance Scheme ‑ The 2016-17 Budget continues the Government's commitment to support the implementation of this important reform through the allocation of $149.2 million over the Budget and Forward Estimates including $56.9 million in 2019-20.

Jobs, Infrastructure and Economic Growth

Economic growth continues to be positive with strong retail spending, high business confidence, elevated building and construction activity and record visitor numbers. This year there is a strong focus on a continued investment in infrastructure and the upskilling of Tasmanians to match them with the jobs needed in areas such as tourism, agriculture and construction. Major initiatives include:

·       $1.8 billion infrastructure package including: Roads $656.3 million; Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment $457 million; education related infrastructure $113 million; and affordable housing $60 million;

·       support for tourism through the establishment of an Aviation Market Development Fund ($1.2 million);

·       Work Readiness for Growth Industries ($900 000);

·       Supporting Small Businesses with Apprenticeships and Traineeships ($600 000);

·       Business Enterprise Centres ($400 000);

·       support for the Geoscience Initiative Program ($1.4 million);

·       support from the Business and Jobs Attraction and Population Growth Program for Business Events Tasmania, Our Fair Share of Defence Strategy, Advanced Manufacturing Strategy, Tasmanian Population Growth Strategy and International Education Strategy;

·       an additional $30 million for the Northern Cities Major Development Initiative;

·       an increase in the First Home Owner Grant by $10 000 to $20 000 for the period to 30 June 2017;

·       supporting the work of the Tasmanian Planning Commission and the Planning Policy Unit within the Department of Justice ($1.6 million);

·       the development of stage 2 of the iPlan: Integrated Planning and Building Portal ($1.9 million);

·       continuing to support the development of the Tasmanian Brand ($650 000); and

·       the Metro Bus Initiative ($18 million) which will see the delivery of 100 new buses to the Metro fleet over four years and will provide an opportunity for Tasmania's advanced manufacturing sector to bid for manufacture, customisation and fit‑out work to deliver an accelerated replacement Metro Tasmania bus fleet.

Implementing Agenda 2016

Agenda 2016 sets out the key actions that the Government will be taking during 2016. There is a strong link between the policy priorities detailed in the State Budget and those which are the focus of Agenda 2016. These policy priorities are:

·       jobs and skills;

·       improving health results;

·       better education for our young people; and

·       protecting our most vulnerable.

Agency chapters in Government Services Budget Paper No 2 provide more information on links between initiatives and Agenda 2016.

One key Agenda 2016 initiative is to reset the relationship with the Tasmanian Aboriginal People. The State Government will invest almost $24 million in existing and new Aboriginal programs and services over the next four years. New initiatives include services in education, child protection, family violence and joint land management with over $2 million in additional funding provided in 2016‑17 over the Budget and Forward Estimates period.

2016-17 Budget Initiatives

In addition to the 2016-17 Budget initiatives detailed above, the 2016-17 Budget also includes a number of other important initiatives that reflect key government policy priorities. These initiatives include:

·       development of a new Tasmanian Archives and Heritage facility ($3 million);

·       Neighbourhood Houses support ($990 000);

·       compulsory treatment of sex offenders ($1.2 million);

·       support for the Office of the Public Guardian ($400 000 recurrent and $200 000 capital);

·       the Mary Hutchinson Women's Prison ($4 million recurrent and $850 000 capital);

·       State Emergency Service, transition to the State Fire Commission, support ($3.4 million);

·       police housing upgrade ($5 million);

·       Emergency Services Computer Aided Despatch Project ($2 million);

·       police district headquarters and major support service building refurbishment ($2 million);

·       grassroots Australian rules football ($2 million);

·       Silverdome maintenance ($2.7 million);

·       Biosecurity Tasmania ($2 million);

·       Wild Fisheries Management Program ($400 000);

·       Maria Island National Park Strategy ($220 000); and

·       Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery strategic organisational reform ($700 000).

 


 

2016-17 Budget Estimates Summary

The following sections provide a summary of the key Budget estimates included in the 2016-17 Budget. Further detailed information on these estimates is provided in this Budget Paper and, on an agency by agency basis, within Government Services Budget Paper No 2.

Table 1.1:          Key Budget and Forward Estimate Aggregates

 

2015-16)

2016-17)

2017-18)

2018-19)

2019-20)

 

 

 

Forward)

Forward)

Forward)

 

Budget)

Budget)

Estimate)

Estimate)

Estimate)

 

$m)

$m)

$m)

$m)

$m)

 

 

 

 

 

 

GENERAL GOVERNMENT

 

 

 

 

 

Revenue

5 307.8)

5 573.7)

5 497.3)

5 485.2)

5 585.0)

Expenses

5 366.3)

5 496.3)

5 489.4)

5 546.2)

5 566.6)

Net Operating Surplus/(Deficit)

(58.5)

77.3)

7.9)

(61.0)

18.4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiscal Surplus/(Deficit)

(157.1)

(160.6)

(196.9)

(165.0)

17.4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net Debt at 30 June

(252.6)

(301.3)

(174.1)

(56.6)

(162.0)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Infrastructure Investment

409.8)

534.9)

535.2)

425.2)

323.1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net Operating Balance

The Net Operating Balance is estimated to be a surplus of $77.3 million in 2016-17. This is three years ahead of the Government's original target for a return to a Budget surplus position in 2019-20. Net Operating Balance surpluses are also expected to be achieved in 2017-18 and 2019-20, and a Net Operating deficit in 2018-19.


 

Chart 1.1 highlights the change in the Net Operating Balance that has occurred since 2005-06 and the current projections for the 2016-17 Budget and Forward Estimates period.

 

Chart 1.1:          Net Operating Balance, 2005-06 to 2019-20

Title: Net Operating Balance, 2005-06 to 2019-20 - Description: This chart shows the improvement in the Net Operating Balance that is expected to be achieved over the Budget and Forward Estimates, with a return to surplus projected for 2016-17.


 

Chart 1.2 summarises the changes in the Net Operating Balance estimates that have occurred since the 2015‑16 Budget. These changes include the reduction of over $500 million in GST revenue receipts and the write-down in returns from Government Businesses. Further information about revenue variations and expenditure can be found in Table 4.5 Policy and Parameter Statement 2015-16 to 2019-20 in chapter 4 of this Budget Paper.

 

Chart 1.2:          Changes in Net Operating Balance Estimates since the 2015-16 Budget

Title: Changes in Net Operating Balance Estimates since the 2015-16 Budget - Description: This chart summarises the improvement in the Net Operating Balance estimates that have occurred since the 2015-16 Budget.

 

It should be noted that the receipt of Australian Government funding for capital programs, particularly one‑off major projects, has the effect of improving the Net Operating Balance outcome. Given the nature of the Net Operating Balance measure, it reflects the receipt of revenue from the Australian Government but does not factor in the expenditure of these funds on infrastructure projects. Given this situation, the Underlying Net Operating Balance has been used for a number of years as a measure that removes the distorting impact of one-off Australian Government funding for specific capital projects. The Underlying Net Operating Balance is derived by excluding non-operational capital related funding received from the Australian Government from the Net Operating Balance.


 

Table 1.2 below provides information on the Underlying Net Operating Balance for the 2016-17 Budget and Forward Estimates period on an underlying basis.

Table 1.2:          Underlying Net Operating Balance, 2015-16 to 2019-20

 

 

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

 

 

Estimated Outcome

Budget

Forward Estimate

Forward Estimate

Forward Estimate

$m

$m

$m

$m

$m

 

Net Operating Balance

(90.3)

77.3

7.9

(61.0)

18.4

 

Less  

 

One-off Australian Government Funding

  Roads and Rail Funding1

  60.2

127.9

50.1

57.4

60.0

  Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment

.... 

25.0

  15.0

10.0

.... 

  Water for the Future Funding

11.3

  18.7

 18.7

18.7

....

  71.5

171.5

83.8

86.1

60.0

 

Underlying Net Operating Balance

(161.8)

(94.2)

(75.9)

(147.0)

(41.6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note:

1.   The existing five‑year roads funding agreement with the Australian Government expires at the end of 2018‑19. Based on Australian Government roads funding over recent years, an Estimated Future Australian Government Roads Funding allocation of $60 million has been included in 2019‑20 to provide a more accurate estimate of the likely level of infrastructure expenditure that will occur over the Forward Estimates period.


 

Fiscal Balance

A Fiscal Balance deficit of $161 million is estimated for 2016-17 with the outcome improving over the Forward Estimates period to a surplus of $17.4 million in 2019-20. The improvement in the Fiscal Balance reflects both the expected Net Operating Balance outcome and the impact of capital expenditure over the Budget and Forward Estimates period.

Chart 1.3 illustrates the Fiscal Balance since 2005-06.

 

Chart 1.3:          Fiscal Balance, 2005-06 to 2019-20

Title: Fiscal Balance, 2005-06 to 2019-20 - Description: This chart illustrates the Fiscal Balance since 2005-06, showing particularly the improvement in the Fiscal Balance that is expected to occur over the Budget and Forward Estimates, with a return to a positive Fiscal Balance projected in 2019 20.


 

Net Debt

Net Debt represents Borrowings less the sum of Cash and Deposits and Investments. The reference to ‘negative' Net Debt means that Cash and Deposits and Investments exceeds Borrowings. This can also be referred to as Net Cash and Investments.

It is estimated that General Government Net Debt will be negative $301.3 million as at 30 June 2017. This Net Cash and Investments position represents an improvement of $87.1 million on the estimated 30 June 2017 figure of negative $214.2 million detailed in the 2015-16 Budget Papers but a deterioration of $56.5 million since the 2015-16 Revised Estimates Report. The deterioration primarily reflects a decrease in the Net Operating Balance since that time.

General Government Net Cash and Investments, whilst declining from the estimated balance of $428 million as at 30 June 2016, is estimated to remain positive over the Forward Estimates period and be $162 million as at 30 June 2020. This reflects the impact of estimated Net Operating Balance outcomes and infrastructure expenditure levels.

Chart 1.4 illustrates Net Debt since 2006.

 

Chart 1.4:          Net Debt, 2006 to 2020

Title: Net Debt, 2006 to 2020 - Description: This chart shows that General Government Net Debt is currently estimated to improve over the Forward Estimates period reaching a level of negative $162 million by 30 June 2020.


 

Sources of Revenue

In 2016-17, General Government Sector total revenue is estimated to be $5 573.7 million. This represents an increase of $265.9 million on the 2015-16 Budget Estimates of $5 307.8 million.

Chart 1.5 provides information on the major sources of General Government Sector Revenue in 2016-17. Chapter 5 of this Budget Paper provides a detailed explanation of the major revenue items included in the 2016-17 Budget and over the Forward Estimates period.

 

Chart 1.5:          Sources of General Government Revenue, 2016-17

Title: Sources of General Government Revenue, 2016-17 - Description: This chart provides information on the major sources of General Government Sector Revenue in 2016-17, showing that the major revenue item is Grants, followed by Taxation and then Sales of Goods and Services.


 

Purposes of Expenditure

In 2016-17, General Government Sector total expenditure is estimated to be $5 496.3 million. This represents an increase of $130 million on the 2015-16 Budget Estimate of $5 366.3 million.

Chart 1.6 provides information on the major purposes of General Government Sector Expenditure in 2016‑17. This Chart reflects the detailed information provided in Table A1.14 in Appendix 1 of this Budget Paper. Chapter 4 of this Budget Paper provides a detailed explanation of the major expense variations included in the 2016-17 Budget and over the Forward Estimates period.

Chart 1.6:          General Government Expenses by Purpose, 2016-17

Title: General Government Expenses by Purpose, 2016-17 - Description: This chart provides a breakdown of General Government Expenses by purpose, with the largest items being Health and Education.


 

Infrastructure Investment

Infrastructure investment is essential to the delivery of vital services to the Tasmanian community. Ongoing investment in infrastructure is a key element of the Government's Fiscal Strategy and jobs and economic growth strategies. Infrastructure investment in 2016-17 is estimated to be $535 million, a significant increase on prior year levels and reflective of the major construction phase that the Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment project has now entered. Over the 2016‑17 Budget and Forward Estimates period, the Government has allocated $1.8 billion to infrastructure investment. Major infrastructure expenditure over the 2016-17 Budget and Forward Estimates period includes:

·       $457 million for the Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment;

·       $656.3 million for roads funding;

·       $113 million for education related infrastructure projects;

·       $60 million for affordable housing;

·       $90 million for the Northern Cities Major Development Initiative; and

·       $185 million of capital provisions set aside by the Government, which will be allocated to future infrastructure investment projects or used to provide capacity to meet cost variation and the impact of the re‑scheduling of projects.

Chart 1.7 provides details of infrastructure investment expenditure for 2016-17 by classification. Chapter 6 in this Budget Paper provides a detailed explanation of the Government's investment in infrastructure over the 2016-17 Budget and Forward Estimates period.

 

Chart 1.7:          Infrastructure Investment by Classification, 2016-17

Title: Infrastructure Investment by Classification, 2016-17 - Description: This chart provides information on Infrastructure Investment in 2016-17, showing that the major infrastructure items are Roads and Rail with 46.4% of investment followed by Hospitals and Health with 25.4% of investment.


 

Current Budget Risks and Sensitivities

The achievement of a Net Operating Balance Surplus in 2016-17 is an important step in the implementation of the Government's Fiscal Strategy. The forecasting of limited Net Operating Balance surpluses in 2017-18 and 2019-20 and a deficit in 2018-19 does, however, mean that the Budget position remains vulnerable to the impact of a number of risks and sensitivities that are unable to be quantified at the present time.

The effective management of these risks and sensitivities, as and when they arise, together with managing associated expenditure levels, will be essential to the achievement of the current estimates and ongoing improvement in the sustainability of the Budget position.

Current significant Budget risks and sensitivities are summarised below.

Grants

Goods and Services Tax Revenue

The risks to Tasmania's GST revenue estimate in the 2016‑17 Budget are linked directly to the State's share of the national population; the size of the GST revenue pool; and Tasmania's relativity factor which is currently forecast to fall over the Forward Estimates. GST revenue collections are highly sensitive to changes in national consumer spending. GST revenue collection in 2016‑17 and over the Forward Estimates period will be dependent on the rate of growth in the Australian economy.

Tasmania's relativity factor (as recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission (CGC)) has been finalised for 2016-17. Chapter 5 provides detailed information about the 2016 CGC Update Report. As shown in Chart 5.2 in chapter 5, this relativity can be subject to a significant amount of volatility.

There is a one-to-one relationship between variations in the size of the national pool of GST available for distributions to the states and variations in GST revenue to Tasmania. For example, a one per cent variation in the GST pool would result in a $23.0 million variation in Tasmania's GST revenue in 2016‑17, assuming that the State's population share and assessed relativity remained constant.

Other Australian Government Funding

Australian Government-State funding arrangements are linked directly to arrangements under the Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations (IGA) agreed by the Council of Australian Governments in November 2008. The ongoing uncertainty around the direction and/or durability of recent Australian Government funding reforms, together with the trend towards cessation or short-term renewal of critical core national partnership agreements, highlight the volatility and uncertainty faced by Tasmania due to this reliance.

Australian Government funding presents a further risk in that the CGC assesses the level of total funding available to each state in determining its relative financial needs and GST requirements. Where Tasmania receives a level of Australian Government funding above the national average, or where it is the only recipient, the State's GST revenue share decreases. This is explained further in the Guide to the Budget document that is available on the Department of Treasury and Finance website.

These payments fall into a number of different categories.

Specific Purpose Payments

There are currently three Specific Purpose Payments (SPP) in operation: the National Affordable Housing SPP, the National Skills and Workforce Development SPP and the National Disability Services SPP.

Under the IGA, SPPs are indexed so that the level of funding moves broadly in line with changes in the costs of providing services. This provides states with some certainty as to future receipts of SPP funding. However, because SPP indexation is based on certain economic and other parameters (such as cost indices), estimates of SPP revenue to Tasmania are sensitive to assumptions underlying these parameters. SPP estimates for the 2016‑17 Budget and Forward Estimates period will change marginally once the actual parameters are known. Indexation accounts for only a small proportion of total SPP funding and as such, this funding is generally low risk.

The National Disability Services SPP will cease when the National Disability Insurance Scheme has completed transition to full scheme status from 1 July 2019.

Students First Funding Reform Agreement

The 2014‑15 Australian Government Budget revealed significant changes to the Students First funding arrangements. The Australian Government has honoured the Students First funding arrangements until the end of 2017 and announced in the 2016-17 Australian Government Budget that school funding for the 2018 to 2020 school years will be indexed by 3.56 per cent, with allowances for changes in enrolments.

The additional Australian Government funding for the 2018 school year will be contingent on a number of performance criteria, which have not yet been outlined in detail.

The State Government continues to deliver on its Students First funding and education reforms, providing the full $134 million of additional funding over the scheduled six years ($98 million for the Government Sector and $36 million for the Non-Government Sector).

National Health Reform Agreement (NHRA)

At the Council of Australian Government (COAG) meeting of 1 April 2016, all jurisdictions agreed to extend the current NHRA activity based and block funding arrangements under a Heads of Agreement that will form the basis of negotiation of an addendum to the National Health Reform Agreement for the period from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2020. The Heads of Agreement also contemplates the development of a longer-term funding agreement to commence from 1 July 2020.

While this agreement preserves the current NHRA arrangements, with the Australian Government contributing 45 per cent of the efficient growth in activity based funded services and block grants, uncertainty remains around the actual levels of activity over the period, and the subsequent impact on the Tasmanian Budget. Further information on National Health Reform is included in chapter 5.


 

National Disability Insurance Scheme Funding

The Bilateral Agreement between the Australian Government and Tasmania on Transition to a National Disability Insurance Scheme was signed in December 2015. It establishes the agreed transition profile of clients anticipated to come into the Scheme between 2016 and 2019 and the respective cost-shares to be borne by the State and Australian Government over this transition period. From 2017, the risk sharing arrangements between the State and the Australian Government will be re‑negotiated. Variations to anticipated client inflows or the current risk sharing arrangements may have a material impact on the timing and size of the State's financial contribution and, as such, represent a potential risk to the Forward Estimates.

Mersey Hospital funding

In 2015, the Government negotiated with the Australian Government to roll over the Heads of Agreement for the continued management, operation and funding of the Mersey Community Hospital for a further two years until 30 June 2017. The nature of the current rolling agreements with the Australian Government creates a level of uncertainty regarding future funding. The 2016‑17 Budget assumes a continuation of Australian Government funding over the Forward Estimates. To the extent that outcomes differ from Tasmania's current expectations, the financial impact on the Budget will be significant.

National Partnership Payments

National Partnership Payments (NPP) are provided to each State through time‑limited National Partnership Agreements and Project Agreements, with the specifics of each payment generally written into the agreement itself. The level of risk associated with these agreements is generally related to the nature of the payments provided and the difficulties agencies face adjusting expenditure levels when they cease.

Future funding arrangements in relation to expiring NPPs are an ongoing risk exposure for all states and territories, particularly where these NPPs are funding critical core service delivery functions. The NPP on Adult Public Dental Services and the NPP on Supporting National Mental Health Reform expire on 30 June 2016. While the Australian Government has announced it will reform public dental services with a new Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme to commence in 2016-17, there has been no indication of future State funding for mental health reform. Other key NPPs of concern in terms of funding beyond 2017 include the Homelessness NPP, the Skills Reform NPP and the Universal Access to Childhood Education NPP. The State is waiting on confirmation from the Australian Government as to the future of these agreements.

State Taxation

State Taxation revenue estimates are sensitive to changes in a range of economic parameters, such as employment, wages growth and inflation, as well as prevailing economic conditions in Tasmania more generally. These parameters can result in either more or less State Taxation revenue being collected.

For example, it is estimated that a one per cent variation in the number of people employed within the Tasmanian economy would result in a variation of 1.3 per cent in Tasmania's Payroll Tax revenue in 2016‑17 and a one per cent variation in average weekly earnings in Tasmania would result in an estimated variation of 0.8 per cent in Payroll Tax receipts in 2016‑17.

Furthermore, it is estimated that a one per cent variation in the number of property sales would lead to a one per cent variation in Conveyance Duty revenue in 2016‑17. A one per cent variation in property prices would lead to a 1.2 per cent variation in Conveyance Duty revenue in 2016‑17.

Other factors that influence state taxes include business and consumer confidence, access to capital and the availability of labour, housing supply, interest rates and the lending policies of financial institutions.

Other Risks

Public Sector Wages 

The Government's established Wages Policy provides for the total cost of salary increases, allowances and any other employment conditions for all industrial agreements to be no greater than two per cent per annum. Consistent with this policy, the 2016-17 Budget and Forward Estimates provide for wage indexation of two per cent per annum. Given that employee costs (including superannuation) represent approximately 47 per cent of total operating expenditure, any wage outcomes over and above this level will have a significant negative impact on the Budget outcome. For example, a one per cent increase in employee costs across all employee areas, over and above that provided for, will (assuming no other changes) have a negative impact on the Budget position of approximately $25 million per annum.

General Agency Cost Pressures

While all Agencies are expected to deliver services within allocated Budget and Forward Estimates, there continues to be a range of Budget pressures which Agencies need to manage, including:

·       Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staffing levels ‑ taking into account the allocation of additional funding to agencies to reflect such factors as Government initiatives and changes to Australian Government funding, it will be important that agencies continue to closely manage FTE levels;

·       general increases in the cost of inputs; and

·       increasing demand for a range of services.

Health Expenditure

Improving health services in Tasmania is a high priority for the Government and this continues to be reflected in the level of additional budgeted funding that is provided for health services. Notwithstanding the provision of this additional funding, the provision of services within this allocated funding is a significant challenge as it is across all Australian jurisdictions. The potential for future budget over-expenditure, therefore remains a significant risk particularly given that health expenditure comprises approximately 30 per cent of total Budget expenditure.

Justice Services

Significant cost and demand pressures are currently being faced in the delivery of a number of important justice services.

Important work has been undertaken in corrective services to improve its operation and to improve its efficiency. Notwithstanding the significant progress that has been made to date, there continues to be increasing demand pressures placed on these services. The impact of some of these demand issues and also changing requirements for program delivery are difficult to forecast. The management of costs within this environment is an ongoing challenge.

The number of coronial inquests undertaken and to be undertaken in 2015-16 is expected to be double the average level in recent years. The holding of a coronial inquest can involve considerable costs including the cost of legal counsel assisting the coroner and witness fees.

Bushfire Costs

During 2015‑16, significant additional funding has been provided by the Government to assist in managing the costs associated with the January 2016 bushfires. To date, total additional funding of $31 million has been provided to the Tasmania Fire Service in response to the bushfire emergency.

The Tasmania Fire Service is continuing the process of finalising the total costs of the January 2016 bushfires. At this time, there remains uncertainty in relation to the total cost and timing of further funding requirements. In particular, the level of costs and timing of payments relating to assistance provided by interstate firefighters and other jurisdictions are yet to be finalised. As a result, additional funding may be required in coming months. The State will be reimbursed by the Australian Government for some costs relating to the bushfires under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).

Returns from Government Businesses

Returns to Government from the portfolio of government owned businesses have varied over time. Government businesses are exposed to a range of factors that contribute to the variability in returns. These include changes in the market conditions in which the businesses operate, the impact of major policy/reform initiatives and the timing of major capital expenditure or capital structure changes.

For example, the Motor Accident Insurance Board's (MAIB) operating results are largely driven by the performance of its investment portfolio and its claims experience each year. Since the global financial crisis in 2008-09, financial markets have exhibited increased volatility and this has impacted the MAIB's ability to forecast its returns to Government over the Forward Estimates period.

Further, Hydro Tasmania continues to be exposed to a number of significant risks that may continue to have a material impact on its financial performance and returns to Government. The Basslink cable developed a fault in December 2015 and was taken out of service. The fault has since been identified and removed from the cable and it is currently expected that the cable will return to service during June 2016.  In addition, inflows into hydro-electric storages during 2015-16 have been well below average and the combination of these two developments have contributed to storages being drawn down to very low levels. Due to low inflows during spring, Hydro Tasmania recommissioned the combined cycle gas turbine at Tamar Valley Power Station and, as a result of the Basslink outage, also put in place additional supplementary diesel and dual-fuel generation to reduce pressure on storages. The costs of supplementary generation have been partly offset by the savings from Hydro Tasmania not being required to meet the Basslink facility fee while the link is not operational. There remains uncertainty regarding the likely level of hydrological inflows over the coming period and the duration of the supplementary generation while storages are rebuilt, as well as the impact of the Basslink outage. These factors will influence the ultimate cost of the Energy Supply Plan. As such, there is potential for further changes in Hydro Tasmania's financial performance and returns to Government over the Forward Estimates period.

Superannuation funding

The major superannuation schemes currently operating in the General Government Sector that have an unfunded liability are those established under the Retirement Benefits Act 1993, the former Parliamentary Superannuation Act 1973, the former Parliamentary Retiring Benefits Act 1985 and the Judges' Contributory Pensions Act 1968.  While these schemes have been closed to new members for some time, because of the long‑term nature of superannuation benefits, the superannuation liability continues to increase as existing members accrue additional years of service as they approach retirement age. The liability is projected to increase until 2022‑23 and then gradually decline over the following five or six decades.

Currently, the emerging cash cost of defined benefit superannuation payments is met from the Consolidated Fund, funded partly by agency contributions and by a Reserved by Law contribution, which comprises the balance of the Government's share of pension and lump sum benefit costs.

Whilst forecast to be manageable, a key budget risk is that the cost to the Budget will increase significantly in coming years, increasing by 67 per cent over the next 13 years and peaking in 2029‑30. The estimated cost to the Budget is based on the most recent actuarial estimates.

In 2016‑17, defined benefit superannuation costs are estimated to be 4.7 per cent of Cash Receipts from Operating Activities in the General Government Sector. Defined benefit superannuation costs, as a percentage of General Government cash receipts, are estimated to increase to 5.5 per cent within five years (by 2021‑22) and peak at 5.9 per cent in 2024‑25, followed by a decrease to 4.6 per cent in 15 years (2031‑32) and to 3.6 per cent in 20 years (2036‑37). Further information on the General Government superannuation liability is provided in chapter 7 of this Budget Paper.

Support to grow the Tasmanian economy

The provision of support to Tasmanian industry and to grow the economy continues to be a major focus of Government. The Government has made it clear that it is prepared to work closely with the private sector to support investment, jobs and growing events in Tasmania. Where appropriate, this may result in the allocation of additional funding or the foregoing of revenue over the Budget and Forward Estimates period.

Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment

The Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment Project is one of the biggest public infrastructure projects undertaken in Tasmania. Funding provided to the Project includes a level of contingency, however, to the extent that actual costs associated with the Project exceed the funding provided this has the potential to have an impact on future budgets. Changes in the timing of expenditure can also have a significant impact on the Fiscal Balance and Net Debt position on a year by year basis.

Water and Sewerage Investment

While 29 Councils are the owners of Taswater, the outcomes delivered by the company are an important matter for the whole of the State.  It is apparent from the Tasmanian Economic Regulator's recent industry report that despite the significant investment in the sector to date, substantial improvements are still required to bring the water and sewerage sector up to a standard that is expected by the community. Clearly it is important that Taswater operates efficiently and effectively in delivering its services and core objectives and that a path is found to fund the infrastructure required to meet the outstanding performance issues in a timely way. The Government will continue to work with Taswater and its owner‑councils in relation to the regulatory framework the company operates within to address material issues that may impede this objective. Subject to Taswater's owner‑councils taking decisions to expedite the currently‑planned investment profile (including revised re‑investment strategies) and confirmation of the need for assistance, there may be a future call on the Government for support.

Appendix 1.1      Credit Status of the State Public Sector

The current credit ratings and outlook for long‑term domestic debt of the states and the territories by the rating agencies, Moody's Investors Service (Moody's) and Standard & Poor's (S&P), are detailed in Table 1.3.

Table 1.3:          Government Ratings

 

Moody's

Standard & Poor's

 

 

 

New South Wales

Aaa (Stable)

AAA (Stable)

Victoria

Aaa (Stable)

AAA (Stable)

Queensland

Aa1 (Negative)

AA+ (Stable)

Western Australia

Aa2 (Stable)

AA+ (Negative)

South Australia

Aa1 (Stable)

AA (Stable)

Tasmania

Aa1 (Negative)

AA+ (Stable)

Northern Territory

Aa1 (Negative)

na

Australian Capital Territory

na

AAA (Stable)