Tasmania’s forestry peace deal funding will still flow, according to federal Infrastructure and Regional Development Minister Jamie Briggs.
Minister Briggs had a whirlwind visit to Tasmania, spending time with employees at Tasmanian Wood Panels at Wesley Vale to reassure them funding allocated as part of the Labor-Rudd government’s Jobs and Growth Plan would still be distributed under a majority Liberal government.
Briggs said his visit to the region and the state was primarily to reassure them the funding from the Labor government’s Jobs and Growth Plan would come under the Liberal government.
“The money will be spent on those projects … we’ve committed to that,” he said.
Briggs said the federal government had allocated an extra $6 million to the $100million set aside under Labor, which could be seen as a sign of good faith for those businesses with funding allocated.
He said he was acutely aware of the challenges facing the state and said the federal government had “ambitious plans” to kick-start that economy in the future.
“We want the economy to expand, not contract,” he said.
He said Tasmania was responsible for some of the country’s finest products and a model of “good government” would go some way to rectifying the state’s woes.
“In a way, Tasmania is exemplary of a political and economic experiment gone wrong and we want to make it more effective, we want it to do better than it is,” he said.
Briggs said some of those “ambitious plans” included the development of the Cadbury factory in Hobart, which would have great benefit to the dairy industry in Braddon.
He also said he was in negotiations with the state government to begin identifying key infrastructure projects for the region and the state but would not elaborate further.
Part of the plan to improving economic development in the state was improving freight links between Tasmania and the rest of the country and the world.
Briggs said a report from the government had already been lodged with the Productivity Commission and said a draft on its recommendations should be ready by about March.
Federal Member for Braddon Brett Whiteley said with all that aside he was excited about the increase of private enterprise into the freight debate in light of business magnate Chas Kelly’s plans to bring two new freight ships to the state.
Briggs said while it was always a sad day to see big business, such as CAT leaving the region, he said it was important the government fix the underlying problems to make Tasmania a more viable place to do business.
He said it was important the government put support networks in place to encourage and support economic growth in the state so funding packages such as the Jobs and Growth Plan were not needed.
CAT previously received $10million in bail out money from then-federal member for Braddon Sid Sidebottom.
Briggs said CAT would not receive the funding under a majority Liberal government.