Tourism in Tasmania
14 Jun 2017
Tasmania is the tourism mecca of Australia. I note the previous speaker spoke of the Vivid festival in Sydney. Well, we have Mona and Mofo, so let's all share the largesse. Tasmania is the tourism mecca of Australia and we all know it. The Prime Minister knows it, but unfortunately the Treasurer does not know it. It certainly did not help us come budget day—not one little bit. The Treasurer did not mention Tasmania once in his budget speech and, when you look at the budget papers, you can see why.
The only mention of Tasmania is in previously announced projects, most of them previously funded and initiated by Labor. In a budget that claims to offer more than $70 billion nationwide for infrastructure, including for a new airport for Western Sydney and a rail connection between Melbourne and Brisbane, Tasmania has been left off the map. I spoke yesterday about infrastructure. We are actually $26 million down on last year. So in an infrastructure budget that is promising $70 billion more for the country we are actually making $26 million less. How that works I do not know in what is supposed to be a national infrastructure budget.
Tourism ventures, including the completion of the Three Capes Track, were also denied funding. This is a wonderful initiative in the south of my electorate. The development of the track so far has involved more than 200 Tasmanian businesses. More than 93 per cent of the total cost of the Three Capes Track has been spent through Tasmanian businesses. It is re-injecting investment dollars into the local economy, the small businesses that the people on that side are bagging on about being their best friends. But they are not helping small businesses in southern Tasmania, because there is not a dollar in the budget for the Three Capes Track. The federal government is yet to fund the final stage, despite the state Liberal government promising $4 million towards this important project.
I struggle to find anything for Australia, let alone Tasmania, in this budget to do with tourism. Tourism is meant to be one of the new engines of growth of the new economy. There was no news on funds for our other two big investment opportunities—the $160 million Cradle Mountain master plan or the gifting of the former HMAS Tobruk to use as a dive wreck off Tasmania's east coast. We know why there is no news about the Tobruk. It is because it was sold to Queensland. So Tasmania remains the only state in the Federation without a fixed ex-naval vessel dive wreck. That is a great opportunity lost for the east coast in terms of tourism ventures. I must say that the former Liberal member who I replaced was an enthusiastic backer of this project. Not even he could get this project off the ground in terms of getting the government to fund it and making sure that vessel came to Tasmania. It really is a missed opportunity for the people of my state and my electorate. It really would have kickstarted things up in that neck of the woods. That idea was sunk by this government.
Tourism in Tasmania is going pretty well. It is going gangbusters, in fact. You would think that it would be a smart investment for a government to invest in tourism in Tasmania—but, no, the Treasurer does not read industry memos. In this budget, the government is providing $1.8 million, down from $5.2 million last year. It is like a Coles advertisement—'Down, down!'
The budget is going down, down for Tasmania under this government. There is $1.8 million—down from $5.2 million last year—for the management of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. The Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is a magnificent asset for Tasmania and for Australia. There is $3.4 million less in this budget for it than there was last year. It is absolutely unforgivable.
Then we have our own state government adding to the problems. They are inept, lazy and not vying for one dollar of the massive funding allocated for rail infrastructure around Australia that was announced in the budget. The federal Treasurer announced about $10 billion for the National Rail Program—the other side have been banging on for the last week about how wonderful it is—and nothing for Tasmania, because the Tasmanian Liberal government was just too lazy and too inept to put in a funding bid for the Hobart rail project, which would have been eligible. But Tasmania's capital city is getting left behind thanks to the ineptness of the Hodgman Liberal government.
How great would it have been for the people in my electorate—in Brighton and Bridgewater, which are pretty low socioeconomic areas—to have access to a rail spur going into Hobart? It would have made all the difference in the world to their transport connectivity. So there are some real missed opportunities for Tasmania in this budget and a real missed opportunity from the Treasurer, who apparently does not know that Tasmania is part of Australia.