Subjects: Basslink power cable; infrastructure funding; Bass Highway funding; tourism funding; HMAS Tobruk; Three Capes track
LEON COMPTON: Anthony Albanese is the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Tourism. Let’s focus on the infrastructure part of that for a moment. Anthony Albanese, good morning to you.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you Leon.
COMPTON: You’re getting across, if you’re not already no doubt, Tasmania’s power supply issues. If you were elected to government after the mid-year election, would you consider supporting a second Basslink cable for Tasmania?
ALBANESE: Well, it’s not my portfolio and I’m not about to make commitments on the run.
COMPTON: Your portfolio is infrastructure, isn’t it?
ALBANESE: You know quite well that falls in the energy portfolio which is a responsibility of Gary Gray. One of the things that I’ve always done when I’ve come to Tasmania is make commitments and deliver on them, unlike the current government, that’s cut funding for projects like the Midland Highway and the Freight Rail Revitalisation Package that we put in place.
COMPTON: What are you doing in north western Tasmania today?
ALBANESE: Well, this morning I’m meeting with the owners of the Wattle Hill service station with Justine Keay and Brian Mitchel, our candidates for Braddon and Lyons, talking about safety on the Bass Highway.
They’ve collected over 2000 signatures in support of works on that highway and I’ll be discussing with them what’s needed in terms of an upgrade, looking at particularly dangerous intersections that have been identified.
I’ll then be looking at the Bass Highway at Wynyard this afternoon and upgrades that are potentially required there, under the Black Spots funding. And I’ll be meeting with the business community today about what their needs are and what their priorities are going forward.
COMPTON: In terms of infrastructure, can we get beyond roads promises in this election campaign do you think in terms of looking at infrastructure options for Tasmania?
ALBANESE: I certainly hope so. One of the things that I’ve been very concerned about is freight rail. We put $120 million into the Budget that was cut by half in 2015.
We do need to get freight off roads and onto rail for reasons of productivity, but also for reasons of safety. Common sense tells you that that’s the case. We also need to look at tourism infrastructure.
That’s of course in my brief and the last time I was in the electorate of Braddon and Lyons I was looking at the proposals for Cradle Mountain and for the masterplan and how that can be implemented.
I also went to Queenstown last time I was here for the fantastic railway project that we funded, but looking at other tourism infrastructure while I’m here as well.
COMPTON: There’s a small tourism project off the east coast of Tasmania we’ve been talking about for a couple of years. They want the HMAS Tobruk from the Navy to sink there as a dive wreck. Would you support that, are you familiar with the project proposal?
ALBANESE: I’m not familiar with it, but I’m certainly familiar that the concept has worked in many other places of Australia and can be a real attraction. Over a period of time it becomes essentially an artificial reef that attracts marine life and provides for a dive site to be created. The more diverse the tourism experience can be here in Tasmania, the better.
We know that Three Capes Track, for example, that was funded when we were in government, that the first sections of it have been opened and it has been named as one of the hottest new travel experiences in the world by Lonely Planet. We need to make sure that project is concluded as well.
COMPTON: Good to talk to you this morning, Anthony Albanese, Shadow Minister for Transport, Cities and Tourism.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.