A 30-year infrastructure plan to ensure sustainable and sensible development in Tasmania, released as part of the Premier’s State of the State address, has been welcomed by business.
The Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has applauded the strategy, which is designed to look beyond the horizon to predict what the State could look like based on current and expected future trends.
It will provide a guide to future infrastructure needs, essential for forward planning for both public and private investment.
Business has been calling for such an initiative for a number of years and it comes on the back of the State Government’s ten year infrastructure pipeline.
Both initiatives are designed to overcome the inevitable bottlenecks that occur when planning large scale infrastructure development.
Too many times Tasmania has seen unnecessary delays in significant projects due to a lack of foresight from successive governments.
This leaves the state with a screaming need, but an inability to respond quickly enough to get various project off the ground.
These unnecessary delays hamper economic growth and also hamper the construction sector, which is required to scale up or down their businesses at short notice.
By creating this blueprint, Tasmania can have a clear understanding of what the priority issues are from an infrastructure point of view and then scale up each project as it suits the priorities of various governments as they come and go.
In addition, it will mean that the economy can continue to grow by ensuring the time frame between the announcement of a project and its actual commencement are reduced.
A classic example has been the road contractors who, in the past, haven’t been able to secure medium to long term contracts – which results in uncertainty for the workforce.
In the last decade, there is evidence of road contractors who have taken interstate contracts because of the uncertain opportunities in Tasmania.
Some went as far as the Northern Territory, not to make a profit but to keep Tasmanians employed in the workforce.
Now the State and Federal Government are delivering massive investment in State roads across Tasmania – including the Bass Highway and Midland Highway as well as a number of roads dominated by tourists.
The State is now five-years into the 10-year $500 million Midland Highway upgrade project with 13 elements costing $130 million.
This means there is continued major works of $370 million and jobs for hundreds of road workers and subcontractors.
A welcomed approach of the State of State is the focus on ensuring the growth of Tasmania’s economy is shared across the State – delivering a better quality of life for all Tasmanians.
“We must find ways to ensure all Tasmanians are feeling the benefits of a strong economy and that no one is left behind,” Premier Will Hodgman said.
“We need to keep our regions strong and our regional communities growing.
“We must continue to break down the barriers to the greatest enabler of social inclusion – education, training and the opportunity of a good job.
“Our Jobs Action Plan partnership with the TCCI and TasCOSS, that identifies barriers to participation and how to remove them through improve access to public transport, is an existing example of this approach.”
TCCI CEO Michael Bailey said he was impressed by the long-term strategies.
“The frustration of business has been Government’s inability to make long-term investment in Tasmania,” Mr Bailey said.
“Too often decisions are made on political decisions simply to ensure they retain government at the next election.
“Now we are seeing examples through State and Federal Governments pushing projects over decades which will overcome the bumps in Tasmania’s economy and the sustainability of the workforce.
“Confidence is strong in Tasmania and will remain that way if we continue these long term strategies.”