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Tasmania’s cash-strapped health department has been told to absorb the cost of the federal carbon tax despite it inflating the $11 million power bill it paid last year by nearly 6 per cent.

Health Minister Michelle O’Byrne said that the impact of the carbon tax on the state’s public hospitals and other Health and Human Services activities would be minimal this financial year.

But the state opposition said that the government had grossly under-estimated the financial impact of the new federal tax.

The state’s main private hospital group is grappling with a staggering 36 per cent increase in the cost of its power this financial year with the majority of the increase attributed to the carbon tax.

The government said that Tasmania remained a net beneficiary of the carbon tax with increased dividends from Hydro Tasmania expected of between $70 million and $80 million.

But opposition energy spokesman Matthew Groom said those dividends were only guaranteed for this financial year and were likely never to be repeated.

A spokesman for Premier and Treasurer Lara Giddings said that the state was not suffering the same impost on its already financially challenged public hospital system as Victoria.

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