Feb 3, 2014

Coalition backs Labor’s Tasmanian jobs package, cuts roads funding

Tony Abbott has backed a series of major Labor grants designed to invigorate the Tasmanian economy and create hundreds of new jobs, despite his Coalition having attacked them as wasteful when it was in Opposition.

However, Mr Abbott has also slashed proposed spending on the upgrade of Tasmania’s Midland Highway project, offering $400 million, when the previous Labor Government had committed $500 million.

Today Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs also re-announced a $3.5 million job-creation project for Huon Aquaculture, which is part of Labor’s $100 million jobs and growth fund for Tasmania.

The project will improve the company’s capacity to process fish and create 100 construction jobs and 60 full-time ongoing positions.

But last year a Tasmanian Senator told The Australian the funding was “a disgusting display of pork-barrelling of the highest order”.

Senator Richard Colbeck also issued a media release saying that the package was “a sleazy $100 million election slush fund’’

Senator Colbeck should clarify whether he now supports the funding and Huon Aquaculture, while Mr Briggs should get to work and deliver the funding for the other 30 projects that were included in the package so businesses can get on with creating jobs.

Also today, Mr Briggs said he had committed $25 million for the Brooker Highway and $17.5 million for the Huon Highway.

Both these projects were fully funded by the previous Labor government. The only thing that has changed is that the government has short-changed the people of Tasmania by the $100 million on the Midland Highway project.

Mr Abbott and his ministers are clearly more interested in rebadging Labor’s projects as their own than actually getting on with the job.

It’s clear that Tony Abbott had a plan to get into government, but he does not have a plan to actually govern.