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Tas economy shows signs of virus recovery

Tasmanians can be “cautiously optimistic” their economy is coming back to life, Premier Peter Gutwein says.

The island state is in better economic health than predicted after treasury published an update tracking the impact of COVID-19 on its budget, he told reporters in Hobart on Friday.

“We’re in a better place than we thought we would be,” Mr Gutwein said.

Tasmania remained in a positive net cash and investment situation at the end of June but that could change over the next 12 months as debt increases.

“I think that people are cautiously optimistic and that our economy is starting to come back to life,” he said.

Forecasts made in May, just weeks after an April virus outbreak in the state’s northwest, expected 27,500 job losses by the end of June, based on the fact 19,000 had already been lost at the time.

However the figure at the end of June was 6500 and lower by the end of July.

“You can see as restrictions have been lifted, that has had a corresponding impact on employment,” Mr Gutwein said.

It was an enviable position to be in but things could change quickly.

“If we had to have a shut down like Victoria there would be an impact of half a billion or 600 million on our economy,” Mr Gutwein said.

He stressed that Tasmania’s full recovery depended on the economic health of the rest of Australia, in particular Victoria, which is responsible for 25 per cent of the national economy.

The lack of discretionary spending in Victoria would hurt Tasmania’s GST income, as well as a lack of international tourists because of border closures, Mr Gutwein said.

Tasmania’s borders remain shut to all states until at least the end of August.

While health officials acknowledge Western Australia, the Northern Territory and South Australia are safe, cross border travel out of Victoria leading to cases in eastern states was the reason the border remained closed, the premier said.

Tasmania recorded its first virus case in 20 days on Tuesday – a man in his 60s who returned from Melbourne after medical treatment.

He is the state’s only active case. So far there have been 228 cases recorded and 13 deaths.

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