Browsing articles in "Shadow Ministerial Media Release"
Nov 1, 2013

Abbott slashes community funding in every town and city

Tony Abbott has slashed grants for community infrastructure by at least $30,000 per local council.

Regional Development Australia Fund grants, worth up to $2 million for larger councils, were designed to fund community facilities like swimming pools, sporting fields and child care centres.

About $150 million in grants under Round Five had been approved by the previous Labor Government. Each was worth at least $30,000.

But Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has confirmed the Coalition will renege on grants unless councils have already signed contracts to begin work.

Mr Truss confirmed the Coalition Government would honour signed contracts, but would treat non-contracted Labor announcements as election promises that did not bind an alternative government to them.
‘Sports precinct upgrade cash not coming’, mmg.com.au, 25 October 2013

http://www.mmg.com.au/local-news/shepparton/sports-precinct-upgrade-cash-not-coming-1.61047

This program was designed to improve community facilities in regional areas and stimulate local economies, thereby supporting existing employment and creating new jobs.

Mr Abbott and Mr Truss have been in office for only a few weeks but they are already destroying jobs and short-changing regions.

This is despite their pre-election promises of “no surprises’’ and no cuts that would destroy jobs.

Whether it is a swimming pool, footy oval or a community centre upgrade, every cut hurts our community.
The RDAF Round 5 grants were announced in June 2013 and funded in the 2013-14 budget. (See page 37 at the link below.)

http://www.regional.gov.au/department/statements/2013-14/portfolio-budget-statements/pdf/DRALGAS_PBS_1314FY.pdf

Despite this, Mr Truss has attempted to mislead Australians by claiming the money does “not exist’’.

It is bad enough that Mr Truss won’t stand up for regional communities, but he is also attempting to mislead people to conceal the Coalition’s mania for spending cuts regardless of the social and economic consequences.

MAJOR CUTS BY STATE*

NSW

Blacktown City Council
Blacktown Football Park Masterplan Construction
$1,507,100

Newcastle City Council
Merewether Baths Pavilion and Public Domain Improvement
$1,053,100

Wagga Wagga City Council
Multi Purpose Stadium Project
$668,800

QLD

Townsville City Council
Tony Ireland Stadium scoreboard project
$438,000

Logan City Council
Waterford West District Sports Park
$560,000

WA

Shire of Derby West Kimberley
Derby Export Facility Enhancement Project
$374,300

City of Stirling
Stirling Community Mens Shed Expansion
$331, 000

VIC

Greater Bendigo City Council
Bendigo Botanic Gardens Expansion
$1 million

Yarra Ranges Shire Council
Japara Living and Learning Centre
$1 million

SA

City of Salisbury
City Centre Renewal
$570,700

City of Onkaparinga
Aldinga District Centre Main Street & Town Square Upgrade
$487,600

TAS

Launceston City Council
Northern Tasmanian Cricket Association Ground Facilities Development
$127,600

Devonport City Council
Replacement of the Devonport Aquatic Centre Waterslide
$89,000

NT

Darwin City Council
Jingili Water Gardens Skate Park redevelopment
$136, 300

Barkly Shire Council
Elliot Sporting Oval construction
$124,000

ACT

ACT Government
Childcare Centre upgrades
$2.4 million

ACT Government
Manuka Oval upgrade
$1.6 million

* Based on grants for which contacts had not been signed as at the September 7 election.

Oct 29, 2013

Abbott buckpasses tourism to states

Tony Abbott is abandoning domestic tourism, with the Minister for Trade and Investment today dumping responsibility for promotion of the $70 billion sector on state governments.

Speaking via video message at a tourism industry conference in Canberra today, Mr Robb said:

Robb: “It’s time to hand domestic tourism marketing to states & territories”

– Tourism Directions, Canberra, 29 October 2013

Parliamentary Secretary for Industry Bob Baldwin has also cut tourism grants and flagged a move of quality accreditation back to industry, increasing costs for operators unless federal funding is provided.

Baldwin:  “The government will return responsibility of T-QUAL accreditation to industry. We will transition that by the end of the financial year.

The government will also refocus funds from tourism grants to demand driven infrastructure.”

– Tourism Directions, Canberra, 29 October 2013

On the face of it, it seems the government is simply looking for excuses to cut funding regardless of the consequences.

Mr Robb and Mr Baldwin must clarify their intentions and guarantee that these changes will not increase the financial burden on an industry sector that employs more than half a million Australians, many of them in regional areas.

Walking away from domestic tourism promotion and leaving the burden to cash-strapped state governments is short-sighted and has potential to cost jobs.

Our nation needs an integrated tourism strategy including leadership from the commonwealth and proper support for industry-led quality assurance, not total abandonment by government.

The previous Labor Government created T-QUAL as a partnership between the Tourism Quality Council of Australia, the Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism and Tourism Australia.

The system accredits quality assurance schemes with the T-QUAL Tick and is backed up by marketing that promotes accredited networks.

It is designed to lift the quality of the nation’s tourism product.

Mr Baldwin should be promoting improvements in our tourism sector, but appears instead to have seized upon it as a soft target for cost-cutting.

It’s been a poor start for the Abbott Government in tourism.

After taking office, the Prime Minister failed to appoint a dedicated tourism minister, before appointing two different ministers and two different departments to cover domestic and international tourism.

Less than a month later, under intense pressure from the industry, Mr Abbott then combined the roles after realising that international and domestic guests stay in the same hotels, eat in the same restaurants and see the same sights as each other.

Australian tourism operators deserve better than cuts, confusion and incompetence.

 

Oct 24, 2013

Jamie Briggs’ train to nowhere

Thousands of people will be stranded and up to 250 jobs will be lost after the Federal Government confirmed it would cut funding to Tonsley Park Public Transport Project.

Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs made the announcement on Adelaide radio this morning.

When asked whether he was formally advising that federal funding to the project would be cut, Mr Briggs said:

Briggs:  That’s right, well, we said that prior to the election.

                                                               ABC 891, 24 October 2013

In fact, the Prime Minister had already confirmed to the South Australian Government that the money for the project would still be available.

Mr Briggs must urgently clarify whether the Federal Government will meet its commitment to fund this crucial rail project for South Australians.

More than 1000 people use the train service every weekday.

The failure to fund this project is consistent with the Prime Minister’s previously stated view that that public transport is not the Commonwealth’s ‘knitting’.

Abbott: The Commonwealth should stick to its knitting, and its knitting is roads”

Doorstop (Frankston), 4 April 2013

During the interview Mr Briggs also admitted he had no idea that the Tonsley rail line was in fact a passenger service rather than a freight line.

“I live in New South Wales and even I know that Tonsley is a passenger service. The Minister, who is from South Australia, appears to think otherwise” Mr Albanese said.

Mr Briggs needs to get across his brief and get it right.

Whether a project is funded or not, and whether a rail line is a passenger line or a freight line is pretty basic.

Cutting vital transport projects across the board is not the way to build a stronger, smarter nation.

Oct 24, 2013

Train wreck: Abbott duds SA on infrastructure

Self-described ‘Infrastructure Prime Minister’ Tony Abbott has axed funding for one of South Australia’s most important infrastructure projects.

The decision to rip more than $76 million federal funding away from the Gawler line electrification project could cost up to 1200 jobs.

More than 10,000 people who were set to receive faster, more efficient and more frequent services under Labor will now face longer journeys and fewer trains.

This is just the first casualty of Tony Abbott’s infrastructure hit list. He must now confirm which other federally funded projects South Australians will lose:

  • South Road – Torrens to Torrens Upgrade ($488 million)
  • Tonsley Park Public Transport Project ($31.5 million)
  • Managed Motorways improving the South Eastern Freeway ($12.5 million)
  • APY Lands road upgrades ($85 million)

“This is Tony Abbott’s latest betrayal of South Australians” Senator Wong said.

“He’s announced cuts to car industry support which will cost thousands of local jobs, and he’s junked the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

“Tony Abbott cannot be trusted to look after the interests of South Australians.”

Only Federal Labor has a positive vision and a clear plan to build Australia’s future with investment in roads, rail and public transport.

 

Oct 8, 2013

Hockey adopts more of Labor’s infrastructure agenda

Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey latest bright idea of using Australian Government guarantees to “lure” greater private sector investment into new public infrastructure is definitely innovative, but it’s certainly not original.

It’s what the former Labor government was already doing.

If Mr Hockey had bothered to read the 2013 Budget Papers, he would have seen that we were offering such guarantees to make it easier and cheaper for private sector investors to raise the capital needed to build two mega-public transport projects: the $9 billion Melbourne Metro and Brisbane’s $4.5 billion Cross River Rail.

The government guarantees, together with the regular ‘availability payments’ we were prepared to make, would have significantly reduced risk, given investors a fixed long term rate of return and ensured the delivery of this much-needed new infrastructure by years.

The risk-adverse super industry found these arrangements particularly attractive.

But unfortunately, both projects were scrapped by the incoming Abbott Coalition Government, which remains ideologically opposed to providing any Federal funding for new public transport infrastructure.

I have a simple message for Mr Hockey: Labor has already done the hard policy work on infrastructure financing; it’s now time for his Government to match our strong record of delivery.

The former Labor government also put in place new tax measures to encourage investment in projects of national significant – a real opportunity for private investors to be involved in financing Australia’s long term infrastructure needs.

In fact, as a result of our far-reaching reforms and record capital works program Australia went from 20th to 2nd on the international league table which ranks countries according to their level of infrastructure investment as a proportion of national income.

 

Sep 23, 2013

Coalition takes Australian cities back in time

Axing the Major Cities Unit in the Infrastructure Department is another backwards step by the Coalition, confirming they have no plans to ease congestion in our cities or make them more liveable.

As one of the most urbanised nations on the planet, Australia’s continuing prosperity will largely depend on how successful we are at making our cities work better.

The Major Cities Unit provides coordinated policy, planning and infrastructure advice across government, the private sector and the community, helping secure economic, environmental and social wellbeing in our major cities.

Axing this unit is quite simply dumb, showing once again that the Coalition’s thinking is stuck in the past.

It follows the Coalition refusing to fund any new public transport infrastructure.

One of the first victims of this out-dated ideological stance is Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project, which will have $715 million ripped away from it.

This unbalanced approach is being replicated across the country and will inevitably lead to more gridlock, worsening congestion and a poorer quality of life in our cities.

The national government always has a role to play in promoting the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our cities, including breaking the back of urban congestion – a problem which is on track to cost our economy $20 billion a
year by 2020.

 

Sep 23, 2013

Coalition starts wrecking the NBN

It has taken less than a week for the Coalition to start wrecking the National Broadband Network, with reports today that the entire board has offered its resignation.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that NBN Co Chair Siobhan McKenna has submitted her resignation to Malcolm Turnbull, along with the rest of the board.

These reports follow Mr Turnbull’s continued personal and vindictive attacks on the NBN Co board.

Mr Turnbull’s ongoing slurs on the professionalism and competence of the NBN Co board have been disgraceful.

NBN Co’s board members are directing the rollout of Australia’s largest ever infrastructure project and deserve support, not denigration.

It is clear that the Coalition is determined to forge ahead with its plan to wreck the NBN, putting in its place a second rate network that relies on last century’s copper.

The Coalition’s plans will see a digital divide in every suburb, where people who can afford as much as $5000 can get fibre to the home and those that can’t miss out.

Mr Turnbull needs to confirm whether the board has offered its resignation en masse and whether he will accept it or reject it.

Sep 17, 2013

Brisbane’s rail network headed for gridlock

Brisbane’s Cross River Rail project is one of the first victims of the new Abbott Coalition Government.

Mr Abbott’s refusal to fund any new public transport infrastructure means he will cut the $715 million allocated to the project in the 2013 Federal Budget.  This cut is in spite of repeated warnings that the existing rail network will reach capacity by as soon as 2016.

Without this new rail infrastructure, local commuters will be left to endure fewer, slower and less reliable services as the rail network across South East Queensland becomes increasingly congested.

The $5.2 billion Cross River Rail project would have added significant additional capacity to the existing network by constructing a new, 9.7 kilometre long tunnel from Yeerongpilly Station to Victoria Park, as well as building four new underground stations.

Mr Abbott is putting out-dated ideology before the long term infrastructure needs of not just Brisbane, but cities across the country.

By his actions, Mr Abbott is also undermining the independent advisory process which is in place to assess the merits of projects, with Infrastructure Australia having already recommended Cross River Rail as a ‘ready to proceed’ project of national significance.

Mr Abbott’s unbalanced, ‘roads-only’ approach will inevitably lead to more gridlock, worsening congestion and a poorer quality of life in our cities.

By contrast, Labor firmly believes that any plan to keep our cities moving must involve investing in both their road and rail infrastructure.  That’s why in government we doubled the roads budget and committed more funding to urban public transport infrastructure than all our predecessors since Federation combined.

 

Aug 28, 2013

Transcript of doorstop – Launceston

Subjects: Labor’s $40 million freight support package for Tasmania.

PREMIER GIDDINGS: Good morning everyone and welcome to our Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to Launceston and Minister David O’Byrne, and the members of the Freight Logistics Coordination team who have been working for some months now, in fact some time, with Government on trying to find solutions to help with the freight challenge that’s been facing business in Tasmania.

When you talk to business, freight is one of the biggest issues that they raise with you. Particularly for those who are exporting, not just internationally, but across Bass Strait as well.

And so this has been one of the key issues we have been trying to find a solution to. There is no silver bullet in relation to these issues. But what we do know is that there are things that we can do that will make this freight task easier.

So the $40 million that we’re announcing today is a joint effort by the Commonwealth and the State Government to help businesses find those solutions that will build efficiencies into their freight task, and help them to drive down costs, which will make them more cost competitive and ensure that they can continue to grow their businesses.

And most importantly, to grow jobs here in Tasmania.

This is very comprehensive work that has been undertaken by the Freight Logistics team and we’re confident with the $37.5 million grant program that will be available to businesses to apply for, that they will indeed be able to drive down those costs.

This is an exciting initiative, it’s also about ensuring that we are filling those empty containers that we know enter into Tasmania and exit Tasmania.

If we can fill those containers, that is one way that we will be able to drive those efficiencies. So one of the things we’ll be doing is coordinating as best we can the small businesses across the state to ensure that they’re using that empty space, they’re working together as businesses, rather than what tends to happen where everybody looks after their own freight needs and therefore it becomes quite expensive for them.

So we think we’ve got some very positive steps that we can take forward with this funding. We couldn’t do it without the Commonwealth. And I thank very much the involvement of the Deputy Prime Minister who I know has been working very hard with the Minister David O’Byrne to find a way through these issues.

ANTHONY ALBANESE: Thanks very much Premier. It is fantastic to be back in beautiful Tasmania again. This is my seventh visit this year. I’m a regular visitor here because the Federal Labor Government prioritises what needs to be done here in terms of growing Tasmania’s economy and jobs.

It’s fantastic to be here with my parliamentary colleagues Geoff Lyons, Dick Adams and Sid Sidebottom, with my State parliamentary colleagues, but also the members of the Freight Logistics team.

There’s one thing I know about infrastructure, transport and dealing with challenges, that is listen to what industry is telling you. That’s why we established the Freight Logistics Taskforce, that’s why we have listened and have taken on board the recommendations that they have.

They are in the best position to know a way forward. And this is a part of a multi-pronged approach. Just last month we had a $100 million announcement for the Tasmanian jobs and growth plan. What that was about was practical assistance for businesses to grow volumes in order to enhance export opportunities. Those practical measures will make a real difference.

Secondly we’re dealing with infrastructure. The investment in Burnie Port, the investment in the upgrade of Bell Bay, the investment in road and rail infrastructure, of which an important component regarding freight is the $120 million as a part of the Nation Building program we’re investing right here in Tasmania.

This announcement today is really a practical announcement. But it’s a practical announcement aimed at not spending a dollar and then it’s gone, it’s how do you spend a dollar to make a real difference in the long term.

Spending a dollar so you can have capital upgrades from industries in a practical way. A practical measure, which has been suggested, regards salmon farming. Now at the moment, because of the distances, the salmon has to be frozen. Because of that the demand for that salmon and the price of that salmon is reduced because there’s a perception about a reduction of quality once you fully freeze the product.

Now what we would look at as part of a possible proposal is semi-freezing, therefore improving the quality of the product, improving the demand for the product, improving the volumes of the product. Making a difference in terms of the long term.

What we will look at out of the $37.5 million is for practical proposals, capital upgrades that will produce a permanent outcome. And that is what the Freight Logistics team have been working on here.

Secondly as the Premier said, it is a case that we shouldn’t have empty boxes going across Bass Strait to or from. By using in particular the fact that this state is the first and greatest beneficiary therefore of the National Broadband Network, it provides opportunities to use information technology, proper coordination, to ensure that we maximise efficiency. So that is another step in terms of $2.5 million for smaller producers to cooperate and to make sure that we get better outcomes for everyone involved, but better outcomes importantly for the state and national economies.

I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done here in Tasmania. Whether it be the Jobs and Growth Plan, whether it be the record Nation Building infrastructure investment where we’ve just about tripled now investment in nation building infrastructure.

I say this as well, we’re committed to the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation Scheme, both strands. What Tony Abbott said when he was here last week – it will be interesting as to what he has to say today where he’s dropped in I think for a visit in Tasmania – he has said that TFES will be sent off to the Productivity Commission for review.

Now we know what the Productivity Commission think of TFES, they want to get rid of it. So that is his promise that he has made on his last visit to Tasmania. Does he stand by that? Or will he actually get on board this positive, practical plan.

PHIL CLARK, CHAIRMAN, FREIGHT LOGISTICS COORDINATION TEAM: Thanks Deputy Prime Minister. As the Deputy Prime Minister said, my group is made up of Tasmanian industry and our job is to come up with a long term freight strategy for Tasmania.

We’ve done a lot of work and we presented that work to Minister Albanese and Minister O’Byrne in a preliminary report. And we’d like to commend them. They’ve listened and listened from a very high level and they’ve come up with a funding package which is an absolutely essential part of the transition to a solution.

It’s a really good package. In addition to that they’ve up with a system for allocating the money, which is based on the Nation Building system, which is fair, which is equitable and which is transparent. And they understand as we understand the urgency.

So $25 million of the funding will freight Tasmania business before Christmas. It’s a great result. It’s a good day for Tasmanian businesses.

GEOFF LYONS: This is great news for freight in Tasmania. We’ve listened to industry and we’re really supporting them to grow in this region, in Tasmania. This is fantastic news and I want to really thank the Deputy Prime Minister for being here and making this announcement today.

SID SIDEBOTTOM: I just want to add to those words, to thank the Council and State and Federal Governments as well. I think what’s emphasised by this is that in Tasmania if we work together cooperatively and collaboratively we can reduce our costs, increase our efficiencies and make the system work for the whole of the state.

DICK ADAMS Today I was at a public forum and my opponent in the Liberal Party basically advocated for Filipino crews to be on the Bass Strait crossing and around the coast of Australia. I don’t think Australians want that. I don’t think Tasmanians want us to solve our freight problems that way.

I think we need these innovative ideas, which our group has come up with, and that’s about spending dollars to improve the infrastructure and the logistics of what we do and I believe that that is the way forward. And I’m really proud of this Labor Government’s initiative here in this area.

DAVID O’BYRNE, TASMANIAN INFRASTRUCUTRE MINISTER: This is one of the most crucial issues facing the Tasmanian economy. We are an export orientated economy and we rely very heavily on our freight and our exporters to build jobs and opportunities in Tasmania.

Now what you see very clearly is State and Federal Labor working together in a strategic way to respond to the needs of our economy. It’s about getting our road, rail and port infrastructure right. It’s about talking to our international exporters and driving productivity and efficiency and making our partnership a genuine partnership between government and industry.

Now Tasmania’s economy is building – particularly in our niche providers – in our small to medium enterprises. Through this funding package we will provide support to them to enable them to aggregate up there their freight task so they have a better decision and better choice in the market. Getting the market work for Tasmanian exporters, not against it.

There is a very clear choice here. You’ve got Federal and State Labor working together strategically at all ends of the supply chain to build Tasmania’s economy. And you have a Federal Liberal Party who want to refer it to a committee again, anther referral to a committee, an organisation that will trash the Freight Equalisation Scheme. And you’ve got a state party that just wants to give $33 million to a single international shipper, which will really only deal with five to ten per cent of the total freight task.

It’s a very clear choice. A strategic response, building a sustainable economy for Tasmania which is diverse, which is supporting our tourism, playing to our strengths and a Liberal Opposition in the State and a Federal Opposition that really don’t understand the needs of the Tasmanian economy.

JOURNALIST: Will this money (inaudible)

ALBANESE: What you’ve got to do, you can’t click your fingers and a shipping service appears. What you’ve got to do is increase the volumes, you’ve got to increase the efficiencies so that it becomes viable and the market determines what happens in terms of the shipping system.

So you can improve the long term efficiencies. That’s what this is aimed at doing precisely. Making it attractive to ensure that we have international shipping operating here from Tasmania; that’s the objective.

The interim report that we’ve received, we’ve adopted the recommendations and there’s more work to be done. This isn’t a task where you just tick the box and say job done.

We’ll continue to work, but the combination of measures; one, the jobs plan supporting industry in terms of growing volumes, two, the infrastructure improvements – Bell Bay, Burnie Port, road and rail freight as well. And thirdly though, the logistics tasks, which this is aimed at. Taking the recommendations from the experts. How do we make capital improvements with the money available, we would anticipate that there would be contributions of course from the specific businesses as well. But this is a substantial commitment.

We are bringing forward funding so that $25 million is available right now, between now and Christmas. We know that it’s possible for that to be used because this process has identified a number of practical plans. It will be a competitive process, submissions with both departments but also with a process of someone – at least one person from outside – to advise on exactly what the best projects are going forward.

JOURNALIST: Can you give us a bit more detail on the kinds of applications that you would expect to get for that $37.5 million. What will they be doing.

ALBANESE: I’ve given you one in terms of salmon and where that could work. Other possibilities are how you improve capital equipment at a factory, at a plant, that is putting produce into boxes, how you do that more efficiently so therefore you grow the volume. There have been a couple of other suggestions for specific companies that have been looked at.

What we know is from the taskforce is that there are these practical measures out there. If you have a company that knows it needs – to use a figure at random – $5 million to upgrade the factory, once that was done it would produce higher output, which would lead to higher volumes, which would increase the freight task, which increases the efficiency, which lowers the cost.

If you can do that, but the company can’t do it by itself because of the position it’s in – of finding the $5 million for the capital upgrade, then I think there is a role for Government to provide that support for industry. Because what it does is produce a return. It produces a return for that business, but it also produces a return for the Tasmanian economy. Because we have more people at work, more economic activity, which produces revenues to government.

So it’s a matter of being prepared to make sure that we provide that support for industry where it will make a real long term difference. So that’s the sort of tasks that we’re looking for; capital upgrades. So one-off funding for a particular commitment, but that will make a long term difference in terms of the freight task.

We know from the experts who are here that that is possible. And I’m really excited about this because I think the model that is going on here, and I congratulate all those involved, these local members, Tasmanian State Government and industry, who have been prepared to sit down and work through these issues in the interests of the state and the nation.

JOURNALIST: There’s a question about freight equalisation, that it favours produce being shipped and processed in Victoria rather than processed and exported direct from the state. What would you do about that?

ALBANESE: The problem is that we don’t have ships that are going internationally. That’s the practical problem that’s there.

With regard to TFES, we remain absolutely committed to supporting freight equalisation. We are the only party at this election who is committed to it. Our opponents, Mr Abbott has made it very clear, a Productivity Commission review. He may as well put it in the savings box now.

And we know that Tony Abbott has got to find $70 billion of cuts. That’s why he’s hiding his costings because we know what will have to come in there. And when you announce a review of support for industry, for the Productivity Commission, when the Productivity Commission just prior to Labor being returned to government federally, has already made its position clear. They’ve had a review, they’ve got a position, they think it should be gotten rid of. Tony Abbott wants to send the TFES processes to the Productivity Commission.

JOURNALIST: You mentioned just a minute ago that there’s no international ships coming in, and that’s (inaudible). Why haven’t you been ready to put this money – $25 million before Christmas – into trying to attract an international operator?

ALBANESE: That’s exactly what we are doing. That’s exactly what we are doing. You’ve got to increase the volumes so that you attract the market to run shipping from Tasmania. That’s what you have to do. We don’t have a Government ship or shipping line. So we can’t call –

JOURNALIST: There are people out there though who would operate such a line for you, why not put money directly –

ALBANESE: We don’t have a Government shipping line. If you give money for a specific operator to undertake a task, that money is gone once it’s spent. What you need to do is to build up the export volumes, deal with what the real challenges in terms of the freight logistics task rather than to subsidise any particular operator.

Now, by doing that – and there’s commercial interest as well – the fact is suppliers have contracts with shipping companies, with freight logistics companies, such as Toll and others. So you can’t simply operate in a market system because there will be action against you. So you need to come up with real solutions. This is about real solutions for the Tasmanian freight logistics industry.

JOURNALIST: That’s exactly what the State Liberals are doing, they’ve committed in $33 million and they said that would attract an international shipping line.

ALBANESE: Well good luck with that.

O’BYRNE: They would put $33 million of taxpayers’ money into (inaudible). They won’t control the price; they won’t be able to build in sustainable solutions. It’s a band aid solution and (inaudible). And if it’s such a good idea, why hasn’t the team recommended it. Because it’s not a great idea.

ALBANESE: And when the money is gone, it’s gone. What you need to do is invest taxpayers’ funds where it makes a difference in terms of change. It’s very easy to just spend money and then it’s gone.

One of the reasons why I love being Infrastructure Minister is that you make a difference long term. Once the $4 million is spent at Burnie Port, you know what, it keeps going. It keeps producing a return. That’s why you deal with these issues in the way in which we have.

Industry understands it. The State Government and Federal Government understand it. That’s why we’ve taken this approach and taken it on the recommendations of industry.

I tell you what, what you don’t want in politics – whether it’s Canberra or Hobart – is these things being determined by politicians talking to each other in a room. It seems to me that that is what the Tasmanian Liberals here have done.

JOURNALIST: $40 million over how long, Mr Albanese?

ALBANESE: It’s over two years. So it’s about getting that capital upgrade and then obviously there will be assessments as to that. But it’s front-end loaded because what the taskforce have said is that there are a number of projects that would be worthy, that are ready right now.

So that’s why $25 million is being made available immediately. Prior to Christmas we will have a process and applications will be called for through that process.

JOURNALIST: How many exporters might benefit?

ALBANESE: We won’t pre-empt the process. But there is $37.5 million and $2.5 million looking at small suppliers. We think that could be very many in terms of using that $2.5 million to establish processes so that you can have better coordination. So no one will be excluded from that process.

We think this could benefit the entire state in terms of producing outcomes. With regard to the specific grants, what we want is an arms’ length process. You don’t want politicians determining that either. What we’ll have is a process whereby our respective governments will work with a member or members of the freight team to make recommendations, (inaudible) and then we’ll make a joint decision just as we did on the Jobs and Growth plan.

JOURNALIST: What if you put all this money into the businesses and helping build up their infrastructure and help them –

ALBANESE: That’s what we’re doing. That’s what the $37.5 million is for.

JOURNALIST: What if they do that and then we still don’t have a regular shipping service to take all their stuff out.

ALBANESE: You can’t wish. I wish a ship comes and it takes the task for a period of time. You can’t do that.

JOURNALIST: So what if it happens. You spend all this money and you still haven’t got a shipping service.

ALBANESE: I am very confident. I am absolutely very confident that this will be successful. It will be successful because we’ve actually listened to industry. And we haven’t listened to any sectional interest either. This isn’t a single rent-seeker seeking a dollar. What this is is a plan for the whole state, listened to industry and I make no apologies for taking that approach.

JOURNALIST: How much is State Government money in there?

GIDDINGS: This is a joint funded initiative. So basically $20 million of the $40 million is State Government funding. But this really is to help ensure that we have long term sustainable solutions to this problem.

What we’re trying to achieve here is long term sustainability, to ensure that we can drive down costs, that we can support our exporters and that we deal with the modern realities of shipping as it is today.

JOURNALIST: If Federal Labor’s not re-elected will you continue to spend $20 million?

GIDDINGS: We will continue to work with the Freight Logistics council on what we can actually achieve to help Tasmanian businesses. Of course with the promise that we’ve got from Federal Labor, this is a huge step forward for us. If that is not realised, we will work very closely with the team and ensure that we can do everything we can within our own power to help this problem for Tasmanian businesses. But we can’t do it alone. We do welcome the Federal Government’s support.

JOURNALIST: Can I just ask Mr Clark, has your team tested to see whether there are international operators who would come in given the volume that you’re expecting to have from this new investment of money?

CLARK: The position is that we’re out talking to the shippers now and the two messages that I’m getting from them very clearly are we’d be mugs to tell them where to go and we’d be really stupid to give them a lot of money to put in their pocket. Because they’d be here for three years and then gone.

JOURNALIST: What do they want?

CLARK: They have a black box solution. The way we’re going to get an international shipper in Tasmania is by somebody getting a break in Shanghai, somebody getting an extra berth in Dubai. It’s not going to be a solution that you or I can come up with, it’s a solution that they come up with.

JOURNALIST: Do they need a particular volume though?

CLARK: They do need a particular volume, and the volume we’ve got at the moment is a bit low. The other problem we have is the import volume is a little bit low. One of my colleagues has been working on that. There’s a substantial volume that Woolworths and Coles import into Tasmania, but they could send 25,000 containers a year from China, just those two businesses.

If we had those coming in then an increase in volume going out, we’ve got the problem fixed.

JOURNALIST: Is this what you asked for in the interim report, or have you had to compromise?

CLARK: We asked for a four year program. We’ve got a two year program, otherwise we haven’t compromised at all. But the think I like about it is one, it’s front-loaded and two, the money is going to get out there quickly.

JOURNALIST: What do you mean it’s frontloaded?

CLARK: It’s frontloaded in the sense we get to spend more early when we really need it.

JOURNALIST: Are you saying the industry is effectively written off the State Liberal Party’s (inaudible)

CLARK: No, I’m not saying that at all. I’m just saying it’s not a very smart idea to put a whole lot of money in a big international shipping company’s pocket.

JOURNALIST: Why were you asking for a four year program?

CLARK: We thought four years would probably get us through the transition the Premier mentioned. This is a long term plan and there are a lot of elements. Shipping is about five per cent, international shipping is about five per cent of the issue. Bass Strait is the issue. It costs three times as much to get across Bass Strait as the equivalent road journey from Adelaide to Melbourne. Three times as much; that’s the big issue. The shipping thing, which is a very heavily (inaudible) issue locally I know, is a small part of the problem (inaudible) and coordinate the rail, and coordinate the road, get the ports working properly (inaudible).

JOURNALIST: How much less could it cost exporters who are successful in getting funding under this plan to get their products across Bass Strait? Is there an estimate of how much they might save on what they are currently spending?

CLARK: Well it’s going to vary from exporter to exporter. But the range of prices across Bass Strait is enormous; it runs from about $600 or $700 per container for the really big producers up to about $1,800 for a small producer. And those small producers are people we particularly want to focus on. And that’s a particular focus of the proposal.

JOURNALIST: How much of an impact does the two year compromise have – will it affect the plans?

CLARK: I would expect there’s a review in two years. And if we can deliver some results, and we can show that those investments make a difference, I’ll be asking for more.

ALBANESE: Which is precisely the plan.

 

ENDS

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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