Subjects: Tasmanian Tourism Package, Abbott/Turnbull cuts to infrastructure, Cradle Mountain, Midland Highway.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: It’s fantastic to be back here in Tasmania. What better place to launch Labor’s National Tourism Policy than right here; the state that is a driver of national tourism, the state where as much as any state in the Commonwealth, it relies upon tourism for future jobs growth.
Here we have a facility that was funded by the former Labor Government. The GASP Project, that I came and announced some years ago when we were in Government, is now up, functioning, and a major attraction for this entire Glenorchy region, right through to the wonderful MONA.
In Tasmania we have made additional commitments during this campaign, with a specific Tasmanian Tourism Package with $44 million. And I thank Senator Carol Brown, Julie Collins and Jane Austin for joining me here today. Strong Tasmanians, two of them in Parliament, one of them, Jane, I hope to get in Parliament as a parliamentary colleague, who have been strong advocates for further investment in Tasmanian jobs and tourism facilities.
Here we’ve already committed $2 million to construct a public access boardwalk and public facilities along the Berriedale foreshore. But that joins the million dollars we’ve committed to the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens revitalisation project, $2.2 million for an active transport pathway between La Trobe and Devonport, $15 million to upgrade the amenities at Cradle Mountain.
This has been identified by the Tasmanian tourism industry as the number one priority and yesterday, we saw contempt frankly, from the Coalition, with a pathetic $1 million announced for a business study for a project we already know needs to happen, for a project where the hard work has already been done, preparing it for shovel ready status. We’ll also fund $1.275 million for completion of the Burnie Waterfront Masterplan, $4 million for the last stage of the Three Capes Walk, the earlier stages funded once again by Federal Labor when we were in Government last time. The first stage, opened by myself and Tasmanian representatives just a couple of years ago, and $10 million to transform the ex-HMAS Tobruk into a dive wreck off Tasmania’s north-east coast.
Together, the Tasmanian Tourism Package is symptomatic of the sort of change we want to see across our national tourism policy. Tourism has been identified as one of the growth sectors by every economic analysis that’s been done about our future economy. But this Government, firstly, didn’t even bother to appoint a Tourism Minister, and then it’s up the back behind the cardboard boxes in DFAT somewhere ignored and not taken seriously as part of the bureaucratic arrangements.
We’d change all that. We’d have a designated Tourism Minister. We’d take tourism seriously. And we’d put it at the centre of Government. We would ensure that tourism was brought back into where it should be – into the transport portfolio so that the interaction over issues such as visas and the need to attract international tourists here to Australia on a level playing field could be dealt with.
We understand that tourism is absolutely critical for Australia’s future, and in particular, it is critical for Tasmania’s future, which is why we’re committing to this package. In the future we will ensure that tourism gets the status that it deserves as part of a Shorten Labor Government.
REPORTER: The Liberal Party has been very critical of the spending promises announced in Tasmania saying that Labor has no means of affording any of them. Can you say with 100% confidence that the money is there on the table?
ALBANESE: Absolutely. And what I can say is that politics and campaigns are about choices. The Liberal Party has made a choice of $49 billion in tax cuts for big business, most of which will just flow off shore. We actually want to keep money here in Australia. We want to create jobs here in Australia. We want to create economic activity here in Australia, which is why our priorities are priorities such as the ones we’ve announced. This is why we’ve prioritised Tasmanian infrastructure.
I’m very proud that every time I come to Tasmania, whether it’s part of Government or part of Opposition, I haven’t just come and made re-announcements of what former Governments have done, as this one has. I’ve come and made a difference over the rail revitalisation project, which has been cut subsequently, over the Midland Highway, over the $50 million we’re contributing to the revitalisation of the Hobart waterfront, which was committed and forwarded to the Tasmanian Government when we were last in office. Over the sort of work we can see around here with the GASP Project and the other works around MONA.
The Labor Party is committed to job creation. We don’t promise things that aren’t delivered. The cycleway, just up at Glenorchy as well, funded and delivered by Labor. It is Labor that is committed to Tasmania. What happened at the last election is that of course we had three Coalition members elected and they haven’t troubled the scorer. They’re barely noticed in Canberra, and they haven’t made any difference in Canberra. And of course, the Independent, who is the Member for Denison, can’t make a difference because he’s not a part of Government either. So that’s why we need Julie to be re-elected; we need Jane to be elected as the Member for Denison; we need a strong vote for the Tasmanian Senate team led by Carol Brown, and; we want to ensure that Tasmania gets the reputation that it deserves. What we’re doing, and will continue to do is give Tasmania the investment that it deserves.
REPORTER: Do you believe the $15 million you’ve committed to Cradle is enough to secure Braddon back to Labor?
ALBANESE: It’s about doing the right thing. What it is enough to do, is to secure jobs, many of which will be in Braddon. That’s what drives our policy. I went to Cradle last year and sat down with the industry on a roundtable and we discussed the priorities. Earlier on I had meetings in Launceston and here in Hobart about the priorities. I’ve been across to the south-west and had a meeting there in Queenstown about the priorities for Tasmania. I’ve been to Burnie and discussed the priorities for Tasmanian tourism.
So throughout the state we’ve listened, we’ve now acted and committed the funding. The funding is absolutely there, it’s ready to go and the $15 million for Cradle will make an enormous difference to jobs in the short-term in terms of construction, but more importantly that long-term economic sustainability. Putting together the series of walks, where the Three Capes walk, of course the completion, will add to the other extraordinary walks that are around Freycinet, and around Cradle, and around Maria Island. These put Tasmania on the map, and we know that’s the sort of tourism activity that is a massive growth sector.
REPORTER: Some tourism operators say they’re disappointed in the Cradle Mountain and Three Capes Track funding. Is there room for further funding on those projects?
ALBANESE: Well I haven’t seen any disappointment. You can’t do much more than complete the Three Capes Track. And that is the funding that we have made available. We funded the first lot, I think from memory it was in the order of $13 million from the Commonwealth for the first sections of the track. With regard to Cradle, this will allow a significant upgrade of the amenities. And it’s a commitment, which is real, that’s available, and ready to go right now.
REPORTER: Would you commit the extra, you did say you’d commit another $15 million if the Coalition stumped up; obviously they’ve only committed a million. Is it still a possibility to see that full $30 million?
ALBANESE: What I do is, make sure I commit money and funding that’s real and absolute. We, of course, will look at further investments in Tasmania in the future, because that’s what we do. We have that record of delivering. A record of delivering, whether it be the upgrades at the Australian Maritime College in Launceston. Whether it be the upgrade of the Bellerive Oval, here in Hobart, or the upgrade of Aurora Stadium in Launceston.
We have delivered on road infrastructure, rail infrastructure, tourism infrastructure, education infrastructure and health infrastructure here in Tasmania. We have a proud record and Tasmanians will know on July 2 that what they’ve got out of the Coalition is three lost years. Three years where there was no funding to complete the Three Capes Track. Three years where all they’re offering Cradle is a study.
Well, the studies have been done, we don’t need another study. It’s a project that’s ready to go. What we need is funding and jobs created. Jobs created here in Tasmania, not a study that will pay someone from one of the big four accounting firms in Melbourne or Sydney, to produce a document to tell us what we already know.
REPORTER: Just with your infrastructure hat on, obviously just up the river there is the Bridgewater Bridge and it’s been a topic of some discussion for a lot of years. Is that something that a re-elected Labor Government would look at funding into the long-term?
ALBANESE: It certainly is something that we’d look at and we have already of course committed $100 million. The $100 million that was cut from the Midland Highway we will put back. Remember Tony Abbott and the Coalition, all these roosters who got elected at the last election saying they had enough money to fund the full duplication of the Midland Highway, with $400 million.
Tony Abbott, went into a pub in Tassie, had his light beer shandy, wrote on the back of a coaster that $400 million could fund a project that had no possibility of funding the full duplication. What we’re doing is real, we’ve said we’ll put back the money that was cut by the Coalition into the Midland Highway and we’d be quite prepared to work with future governments on a solution to the Bridgewater Bridge issue that needs to be dealt with at some stage. It’s the sort of thing that we’d be prepared to consider. I’ve got to say this; I don’t know what the Tasmanian State Government has been doing. It appears they are totally compliant in term of being prepared to just clap Federal Ministers who come along and don’t actually promise anything at all.
They made one serious tourism commitment at the last election. It was to Cadbury. Remember that? And over and over again it was going to happen and nothing happened. It was like their Midland Highway commitment. This one was done on the back of a napkin somewhere, or maybe on the back of a chocolate bar wrapper. But it was always nonsense, and it didn’t happen, and they said month after month after month that it would happen, and it just evaporated into thin air.
So people shouldn’t trust the Coalition on July 2 because they’ve shown they are not trustworthy. And just up the road here, Malcolm Turnbull the Prime Minister is here, matching our commitment to UTAS for the two new campuses at Burnie and at Launceston. The problem with that is that we announced it on the 28th of April.
So it’s almost two months later, Malcolm Turnbull comes along and announces the same thing, a matching commitment, and says it’s part of a City Deal. Just like up in Townsville he promised exactly the same amount of money that Labor had put on the table, I think in that case about four months ago for the Townsville Stadium and said, ‘oh it’s part of a City Deal’, in order to hide his embarrassment that it has been Labor leading the policy agenda. Not just during this election campaign, but during the last three years. This is a government that got into government as the end in itself. They don’t have a sense of purpose, they just fell back on ideology with their mean spirited cuts to public health, public education, the public broadcasters, and now what we know is that Malcolm Turnbull had a plan to get rid of Tony Abbott but has no plan for Government.
REPORTER: You’re announcing money for a congestion study for Hobart’s emerging traffic problem; do you think this will pave the way for a light rail system, something that a lot of locals, including Andrew Wilkie, have been pushing for?
ALBANESE: Look absolutely and we had funding for the light rail project when we were in government. That was one of the cuts that were made by this government. That’s something that we support a study of and we’ve been, it was Labor that funded public transport projects around the country and active transport projects.
It is Labor that is the party of public transport. This government once again has just followed on those issues. But the idea of an integrated transport plan for greater Hobart so that instead of councils not working with each other councils working together, support for the upgrade of the bus interchange, is also obviously critical. These are all issues that need to be dealt with along with the ferry terminal and other issues that Labor will deliver on; just like we delivered last time we were in government.
There is nothing that the Coalition can point to that I have ever come down here and promised as the Infrastructure Minister, as the person responsible for community infrastructure under the former Labor Government that wasn’t delivered. Every single thing we promised, we did.
They have done the opposite. They have delivered no new projects. They cut the Rail Revitalisation Project, they’ve cut the money that was allocated for Hobart Light Rail, and they don’t have an agenda for the future, for the country and they certainly don’t have one for Tasmania. Except for taking Tasmanians for granted, and I think that’s very disappointing, and I think that reflects the disappointment that is there in Malcolm Turnbull’s Prime Ministership because he has failed to lead. Leadership isn’t coming and re-announcing things that Bill Shorten has announced many months ago.
REPORTER: During this election campaign a lot of announcements have been made for the north of the state of the state. It seems as though Hobart and southern districts have been left out. You, as the Member for Franklin, how do you take that?
JULIE COLLINS: Well, of course we have made many announcements right across the state. What Labor has done is make announcements and invest where Tasmania needs it most. Some of those investments are in northern Tasmania because all of the councils all came together and told us that the priority in terms of water and infrastructure was Launceston first and that includes all the southern councils told us that that was the priority. UTAS projects everybody in Tasmania is saying is priority that will transform the whole state. There is also of course investment for even the Hobart campus when it comes to some bachelor degrees. So we have invested right across the state where it has been needed most and that includes over $100 million here in southern Tasmania that has been committed. I think Tasmanians are truly sick of the Liberal Party taking southern Tasmanians for granted. Southern Tasmanians have not yet seen Malcolm Turnbull in this election campaign and it is the Liberal Party that has taken southern Tasmania for granted, unlike the Labor Party which has made many commitments down here in southern Tasmania.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.