Australia — The cost of responding to Tasmania’s January bushfires is likely to push the state budget into the red.
With a state election due in the next 12 months, the Premier, Lara Giddings had been hoping to deliver a surplus.
But the bushfire response has cost government agencies $45 million to date and while half of the expenses are expected to be recouped from the Commonwealth, it appears to have blown the state’s chance of delivering a surplus.
The Government had forecast a $71 million surplus for next financial year but Premier and Treasurer, Lara Giddings, is not saying whether it can still be achieved.
“We’re working through the figures in relation to the budget and you’ll have to wait until the budget to see how it does actually come together,” she said.
The budget will be delivered on May 23.
The Government has announced a former South Australian Police Commissioner has been appointed to head Tasmania’s bushfire inquiry.
With a budget of $670,000 Malcolm Hyde will have six months to examine the causes, the response and the adequacy of agency planning in the bushfires.
Issues to be examined include the cause of the fire, the emergency response and the adequacy of preparation and planning by authorities.
Ms Giddngs has told Parliament Mr Hyde was a good candidate for the job.
“He has been awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia, the Australian Police Medal, Officer of St John and the Australian Police Service Medal after 45 years of policing experience,” she said.