Wednesday, 26 February 2020
Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020; Second Reading
Today's release of the annual Infrastructure Priority List from Infrastructure Australia confirms that Tasmanian infrastructure is stuck in the slow lane. IA has again declared that the business case for the Bridgewater Bridge requires further development and anticipates this project will not be delivered until 2030. That is six years longer than the government has been telling people in my electorate, after a long delay already. The IA report states that the business case was evaluated by Infrastructure Australia in June 2019. The project is undergoing further planning and assessment with support from the Australian government and the Tasmanian government. This revelation comes after the Tasmanian government advertised the position of project director as a five-year fixed term contract ending in 2025, despite telling the public that cars will be driving over the new bridge by 2024. So either somebody's being paid more than $200,000 a year as project director to twiddle their thumbs for a year or the Liberals know that the Bridgewater Bridge is going to take longer than they are telling the public.
The fact is that, under the Liberals and the Nationals, Australian infrastructure is being treated as a massive slush fund. Whether it's the $3 billion in urban congestion funds that have gone overwhelmingly to Liberal seats and seats that the government is targeting, somehow bypassing the Labor-held seats that have higher congestion needs, or the hundreds of millions of dollars in rorted sports and community infrastructure, this corrupt government knows no shame when it comes to dipping its hands into the public purse for its own political purposes. The only Labor seats that got a look-in with infrastructure funding are the seats that the Liberals targeted at the last election, including my own. But the people of Lyons were not fooled. I am pleased to say they re-elected me with, I'm humbled to note, an increased majority. The fact is that infrastructure funding should go where it is needed in order to meet community requirements and not prop up Liberals and Nationals with dodgy pork-barrelling.
Tasmania is drier than ever before. Average rainfall across the state is down and, when rain does come, it's hard, it's fast and it's in shorter bursts. Our farmers are struggling to feed stock. Our cities and towns have their water rationed. Our dams are at increasing risk of running low, threatening the viability of our hydroelectricity system. Tasmania needs a state-wide water strategy. As I told the House last night, Tasmania has a number of water authorities and each does a fine job in looking after its own narrow interests, but what we need is a water strategy that pulls everything together and looks at water security in a holistic way. Tasmania needs a water strategy that examines where water is plentiful and where it's not, whether we can move it, how we would do it, how much it costs and who pays. This strategy should examine the infrastructure that is required to meet our irrigation, our drinking and our hydro needs and whether efficiencies can be gained via shared resourcing.
I'm sure there is plenty of information buried in numerous reports produced by these individual agencies, but I am yet to see evidence that anybody has pulled it all together into a whole-of-state strategy that takes into account the likelihood of a drier and warmer Tasmania.