Doorstop at announcement of Tasmanian Jobs and Investment Fund, Cressy, Tasmania

13 May 2016

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. SENATOR RICHARD COLBECK,

MINISTER FOR TOURISM AND INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION,

THE HON. WILL HODGMAN, PREMIER OF TASMANIA

AND ERIC HUTCHINSON MP, MEMBER FOR LYONS,

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW,

CRESSY, TASMANIA

Subjects: Tasmanian Jobs and Innovation Fund; TasWater; Hawthorn; Cadbury.

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

RICHARD COLBECK:

Well it's fantastic to be here today at Burlington Berries to announce the successful candidates for the Jobs and Growth package that's been put together, in combination with the State, with the Cadbury money.

The really pleasing thing from my perspective is that we've turned an initial $16 million, when combined with the State Government's $8 million, into over $92 million worth of investment.

The initial job proposal from the Cadbury money was to create 200 jobs and with this announcement today we'll be announcing almost 800 jobs, so in effect, four times the initial proposal in jobs which demonstrates the Australian government's focus on jobs and growth.

So, a really great result from a process that's been put together in combination with the State and the Commonwealth Turnbull Government to really focus and demonstrate the Turnbull Government's focus on jobs and growth for Tasmania.

So 800 jobs, $92 million worth of investment for 56 companies spread right across Tasmania.

QUESTION:

Why did you wait until the federal election was called to announce where this money was going? Didn't applications close in February?

RICHARD COLBECK:

Well the applications did close in February but we do have to have a proper analysis of all of the projects. We have always said that we are about making strategic decisions with good process; there's no point in rushing these sorts of things out the door.

We announced the fund in September last year and to have it through is application process, finally assessed and announced in this period of time I think is a pretty good job.

QUESTION:

Is it a pork barrel to save the Liberal seats of Lyons, Bass and Braddon?

RICHARD COLBECK:

This is a strategic announcement that incorporates 800 jobs across Tasmania and I think quite a sensible use of taxpayers' money, both State and Commonwealth, and it clearly demonstrates the Turnbull Government's focus on jobs and growth for the election and the future if we're re-elected after the 2nd of July.

It is about ensuring the opportunity for jobs and growth in the Tasmanian community across the entire state.

QUESTION:

Do you think this cash can save your Senate seat?

RICHARD COLBECK:

This is not about me, this is not about my Senate seat and this is not about any individual Member of Parliament.

This is about making a strategic and sensible decision to assist businesses in this state to employ more people; that's what this is about.

We want to ensure that there is capacity within the economy of Tasmania to generate jobs and we are clearly demonstrating that today by announcing this package that will create up to 800 jobs in the state.

QUESTION:

(inaudible) this announcement's being made during the federal election?

RICHARD COLBECK:

Well this announcement's being made now because it's ready to be made now. As we said a moment ago, the process was conceived in September and we've been through an application process, we've been through an independent assessment process of the very many applications and this process was very much oversubscribed.

We've picked the best projects that will create the most jobs possible here in Tasmania; that's what this is about. It's not about us, it's about the Tasmanian community and jobs and growth.

QUESTION:

These projects, where abouts are they spread, you know where is the predominant, or state-wide...

RICHARD COLBECK:

These jobs are actually spread and the investment is spread across the state, so quite evenly across Tasmanian.

There will be benefits in all parts of Tasmania and I think it's is a very pleasing thing that there are opportunities for new jobs for Tasmanians all over Tasmania from this package.

QUESTION:

Is there money for Glenorchy?

RICHARD COLBECK:

There is some money in Denison, yes, but the benefits of the previous package are also going to be spread across the state as are the benefits of this package now.

QUESTION:

Do you think people in Glenorchy are going to feel short changed by this, do you think that's a fair assessment for them to feel that way?

RICHARD COLBECK:

No look I don't believe they should - if the Tasmanian economy benefits, everybody in the state benefits. It's not about one small part of the state, we're looking at creating prosperity for all of Tasmania and job opportunities across the state and that's exactly what this package does.

QUESTION:

The Glenorchy area though has some of the highest youth unemployment rates so wouldn't that be a natural target?

RICHARD COLBECK:

Well there are job opportunities from this package all over Tasmania - I think that's the thing that we ought to be focusing on. There are up to 800 jobs being created out of this investment, that's four times what was proposed out of the Cadbury package.

I think that is a fantastic result out of a reasonable amount of taxpayers' money from the State and from the Commonwealth.

QUESTION:

This money was promised three years ago; when will we see new money come through this election?

RICHARD COLBECK:

Well this money can now start to flow once contractor arrangements are finalised with the individual project proponents. We look forward to that money starting to flow and of course we look forward to seeing the jobs created that are as a result of this investment.

QUESTION:

Will Tasmania miss out in this election?

RICHARD COLBECK:

I'm not sure what your question means really.

QUESTION:

With new money coming through?

RICHARD COLBECK:

Oh look, this is not about this election, it's in fact finalising a process that commenced at the last election. I might add that when Cadbury decided to pull-out of the investment during the last three years that the real issue was this money might go back into consolidated revenue - and I have to congratulate my colleagues for the work that they did in Canberra to ensure that this money stayed in Tasmania.

I thank the State Government for their willingness to co-invest with us to pull together this new package and of course you're seeing a very, very positive result out of that. You're seeing up to 800 new jobs created here in Tasmania out of a $24 million investment from the State and Commonwealth Government - I think that's a great result.

QUESTION:

Is this the full tranche of the $16 million from the Federal Government and $8 million from the State Government being spent now, or is there going to be further phases?

RICHARD COLBECK:

This assessment process considered the full amount that was part of the announcement that was made last September.

QUESTION:

So the announcement today that's all of the money, there's none left?

RICHARD COLBECK:

There are some final announcements to be made based on some commercial considerations.

QUESTION:

When can we see the full list of where people, I suppose, which businesses projects are getting this money and how much is left?

RICHARD COLBECK:

The full list to date is appended to the press release that we're releasing now.

ERIC HUTCHINSON:

I'm very pleased to be here at Burlington Berries today. Burlington Berries is one of 17 recipients of funding through the Tasmanian Jobs and Investment Fund in the electorate of Lyons.

Nearly $25 million worth of new investment, 245 new jobs will be created right across from the South of Tasmania to the North of Tasmania in my electorate.

This is a fantastic result and it shows the commitment that this government has to creating jobs and generating investment and creating employment opportunities, particularly for young people in my electorate.

Some of my electorate has some of the highest youth unemployment areas in the state and I'm very pleased that this money will be spread right around Tasmania, supporting communities, particularly in regional Tasmania.

WILL HODGMAN:

Okay, firstly can I thank Burlington Berries for having us here today on this beautiful property and to be with local members, obviously Eric and also Mark Shelton and also with Senator Colbeck.

Look, can I just say that I think this is an occasion that demonstrates the positivity that comes through governments working together and with Tasmanian businesses and enterprise.

This is a collaboration that came out of very disappointing news when Cadbury made the corporate decision. It was I think a very wise move by Tasmania's Government to collaborate with the Federal Government and Tasmanian business, that are now enjoying record levels of confidence, to see how we can combine to deliver more jobs and more economic growth for our state.

This is a sign of confidence in our economy which is at nation highs, this program was oversubscribed but many Tasmanian businesses will benefit. We'll work in partnership with government and deliver more jobs for Tasmanians, right across the state.

I know some will criticise about what has or hasn't happened in their own patch but as the Premier for Tasmania I am pleased to see such a tremendous uptake and support for this program, a willingness for Tasmanian businesses to demonstrate their confidence in our economy and to partner with government for more job opportunities for Tasmanians.

QUESTION:

Can you explain to us what the criteria were that businesses needed to meet to actually qualify for this money?

WILL HODGMAN:

Well the process was very robust and the Tasmanian Government delegated responsibility to the Federal Government agencies and that was a wise move as well, because they are well experienced in undertaking such processes.

But, there will be some who complain that we've gone through a rigorous process - but what are they suggesting? That we should have rushed to made decisions not based on evidence and facts and what will be in the best interests of Tasmania?

We've done the right thing, there's been a process, the Tasmanian Government signed off just a matter of weeks ago, once the process was concluded. The Federal Government are now announcing the successful applicants.

So for those who want to complain that we've gone through a merits based assessment, robust and properly independently analysed - I ask what's their alternative? That we would pick which project should be successful?

The criteria is based on what will create jobs and continue Tasmania's strong economic growth.

QUESTION:

Saying that its oversubscribed does that say that there needs to be more money for our businesses?

WILL HODGMAN:

Well it does show that is extraordinary levels of confidence in the Tasmanian community and that Tasmanian business want to co-invest with State and Federal Governments.

So it's an indication of a success story and it will certainly be replicated in economic growth and more job opportunities for Tasmanians.

QUESTION:

What's your response to the whole pork barrelling, it being seen as pork barrelling?

WILL HODGMAN:

Well we've gone through a robust, merit based assessment and I don't think any of the successful applicants will consider it be such, I think they will welcome the opportunity to receive support from Tasmania's Government and from the Federal Government, knowing that they're also getting their own skin in the game as well.

That's why it's been so readily adopted as a useful partnership between government and private enterprise.

It's a success story and it's a model that clearly is working and I think its demonstrative of Tasmanian business having very high levels of confidence.

QUESTION:

You said that you praise the rigorous, independent assessment process that was used in this case. Was the initial $16 million funding announcement for Cadbury equally rigorous and independently assessed?

WILL HODGMAN:

Well that was a decision made, and an election commitment by the Government at the last election and it was a commercial decision by the company to not proceed, but I think out of what was a disappointing decision we're now seeing a program that will deliver more jobs.

It will deliver benefits right across the state of Tasmania and I'm the Premier for Tasmania so I think that's a great thing as well.

QUESTION:

Just quickly, I've just got one on TasWater. They say there is $1.8 billion of investment needed state wide and asking the state government to contribute $100 million over ten years. Is this something that the government (inaudible)?

WILL HODGMAN:

Well look the councils as owners are obviously taking the opportunity during a federal campaign, but I think it's a little rich for councils when they receive dividends as the owners of this business to be demanding State and Federal governments to put more in.

But of course we want to make sure that Tasmanian water infrastructure is the best it can be.

QUESTION:

They said they'd be willing to have a freeze on the dividends if this money can be supplied by the State and Federal government.

WILL HODGMAN:

Well we'll work through this proposal, obviously the councils are the owners of TasWater and they have their responsibilities, but if they want to put forward a proposal that delivers better outcomes for Tasmanian residents and businesses then of course we'll talk with them and the Treasurer is doing that.

QUESTION:

Hawthorn's about to play their 50th game at Aurora. How important is this for the state?

WILL HODGMAN:

The Hawthorn deal and the new deal we struck which delivers great benefit to Tasmania's economy and also community is something that I think is celebrated by all Tasmanians. York Park, Aurora Stadium has become a fortress for Hawthorn.

They love coming down to the state and them doing so creates extraordinary economic benefit, and gives Tasmanians a chance to watch the premier AFL team currently, playing in our own backyard. So it's wonderful for AFL followers.

QUESTION:

Would I be able to ask the Senator the water question? So the question is, TasWater say there's $1.8 billion worth of investment needed state-wide, they're asking the federal government to contribute $300 million over ten years, is this something that's being considered?

RICHARD COLBECK:

Well I echo the Premier's comments that dropping a $300 million ask in the middle of an election campaign is probably not necessarily going to get funded straight away. We will quite happily have the conversations that we need to have with TasWater and the State Government.

This is obviously about important Tasmanian infrastructure, sewerage and water, and so we'll have the conversations that we need to have with local government and with the state government and then consider what might be possible as those discussions progress.

(ends)

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