Published: 02 September 2019

If you're struggling to understand what's happening in the world, you're not alone. It's increasingly difficult to align what the government is saying with what we see in our community.

One minute they tell us about the record amounts being spent on health. Next minute, we find the health budget is less than what was spent in the last year.

One minute they tell us they expect surpluses as far as the eye can see. Next minute, we discover they will spend $1 billion more in cash terms than they will get over the next four years, and will have to borrow to fill the gap. 

The amount of borrowing is uncertain and repayment terms even less so. Unless the government finds the $450 million of budget cost savings, the situation will be far worse. The budget is not fixed.

The North West is full of potential. With the cleanest air and abundant water, we produce some of the world's best food, timber products, minerals and beverages. Our advanced manufacturing sector is providing world class, innovative products and services to the world.

So why do we have higher unemployment than other areas of the state, and an employment mismatch? Employers have trouble getting skilled workers, and many young people can't secure the jobs they seek. 

Industry needs traditional and new skills. Vocational Education and Training is a key part of the solution and must be properly funded and supported, equal to a university education. Too many university graduates can't get work in their chosen discipline, and a one-size-fits-all approach doesn't work.

We all need tradies. Often it's hard to get them. We all want good service in cafés, care facilities and at the hairdresser. Tradies and those in the service industries must be valued. Pathways to further education must also be part of the mix.

Economic activity needs investment in physical and social infrastructure including health, housing and education. However, in reality the yearly promises of 'record infrastructure spending' continue to fall short.

With interest rates at all-time lows, borrowings to meet current budget demands should be used to fund intergenerational assets creating value for all Tasmanians.

The Advocate 1 September, 2019

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