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Liberal Matter of Public Importance - Jobs in Building and Construction

17 October 2019

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Madam Deputy Speaker, when we are talking about jobs in building and construction we have to look at the biggest construction project on the Government's horizon at the moment, which is the Bridgewater bridge. I believe $576 million is the current estimate for that project, of which $461 million would need to come from the Commonwealth alongside $115 million from Tasmania. By any account in Tasmania, they are very big numbers.

The Bridgewater bridge has been grinding on for years and years. I remember the endless talkfests the previous minister, Mr Hidding, had on this topic. It went on from election to election, always another announcement but never anything acted upon. That is a good thing because within this process is a complete failure to pick up on where that money should be spent. Now that we have a Hobart City Deal and a collaboration between the mayors of the Greater Hobart councils, we are coming to hear loud and clear that it would be a disastrous way to prioritise this very rare opportunity to get a large amount of Commonwealth funding to put into a construction project. It would be disastrous to put it into the design the Liberals in Government are pushing, which is an over-engineered Bridgewater bridge.

We need a functioning Bridgewater bridge. Everyone in here agrees on that. Everyone in the community agrees it needs to be a functioning Bridgewater bridge, but it does not need hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer's money diverted towards a bridge that will be nice for yachties to sail through.

I want to declare a conflict of interest. My husband and I have a yacht. We like to sail our yacht. But I am prepared, as a yacht owner, to selflessly forgo the opportunity to sail into the upper parts of the Derwent so that that money can be far better spent on public infrastructure. Where it needs to go, instead, is toward a light rail corridor. Hands down, most yachties would agree, and they would probably line up and sign a statement that says they are prepared to forgo the beauty of the upper reaches of the Derwent so that Tasmanians could have the benefit of a light rail. Wouldn't we all think that is a good trade-off? I would have thought so. That would really be a have-your-cake-and-eat-it moment.

The Glenorchy City Council and the mayor has come out and made very strong public statements to this effect. We have been waiting and waiting for that light rail corridor. Here is the opportunity. I understand we can get it for the same price tag. We can have an improved Bridgewater bridge and a light rail corridor for the same amount of money. The jobs that go with that construction are the future. It provides for people in low incomes, medium incomes and even high incomes in the area between Hobart and Bridgewater.

To be able to jump on a light rail train, to be able to move quietly, energy efficiently, with low carbon and quickly into the middle of Hobart and out again would be transformative. It would massively increase the value of property along the area, one of the things I would have thought the Liberals would be champing at but, for some reason, they are stuck on this idea that you have to be able to get your yacht up into the upper reaches of the Derwent. What madness is it that would prioritise yachties over light rail for Tasmanians? I cannot imagine it. I look forward to continuing this conversation.

The university and all other large businesses would welcome the opportunity for people from the Derwent Valley to be able move quickly into the area. Imagine the access for students from the New Norfolk area to be able to come quickly, cheaply, simply and with low carbon miles into the middle of Hobart to go to uni. How wonderful that would be to make that travel distance so much shorter. How important it would be for people who are struggling in traffic on the Brooker Highway to have access to light rail, yet the Government is stuck on wanting to have yachts go up the river. It is something little Senator Eric Abetz has his heart set on and, somehow, everyone else has to jump to that tune.

Mr Ferguson - Can I invite you to have a look at the Hobart City Deal? They are both provided for, okay?

Dr WOODRUFF - No, we want a commitment that there will be light rail. There has never been a statement that light rail is -

Mr Ferguson - I invite you to have another look at it.

Dr WOODRUFF - No, minister, I invite you to make a public statement that you will be prioritising light rail. Stand up and make it to the House. We would love that. We would stand with you and welcome you. We would love that.

Mr Ferguson - We are not locking in on a certain technology. That is what the review is for.

Dr WOODRUFF - Well, lock in, lock in. I encourage you to lock in on a project that is good for us all. The climate emergency is upon us, in case you had not noticed. We need to reform and totally transform our building and construction industry. We need materials for the future. We need to be replacing concrete. We have to have alternatives. We need an LVL industry in Tasmania. We need to be creating new industries and jobs in those industries using plantation timber and creating LVL here, not bringing it from the mainland.

This is a wonderful opportunity for the forestry-loving Liberals to use plantation timbers in an LVL industry. Why are you not jumping at it? Why are you not investigating it? The Greens have been asking these questions of the previous Building and Construction minister and received radio silence. I do not think she had even thought of it - climate change and construction, no. She did not seem to have anything to say about that, either. Construction in the future, right now, is being massively affected by floods and all the other things that will confront us. We look forward to the Government talking about light rail.