Transcript: Doorstop at Devonport
23 July 2018
Subjects: Waterfront Precinct and Living City project in Devonport; Braddon by-election; live exports; meningococcal vaccination; people preferring Anthony Albanese to Bill Shorten; farming issues in NSW
Well good morning everybody thank you very much for coming. I’d like to welcome our Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Michael McCormack; Acting Mayor of Devonport Annette Rockliff; fellow Senator Richard Colbeck and Liberal candidate for Braddon Brett Whiteley.
I’m very proud to announce today that as a Senator of Tasmania, I’ve secured $10 million for the Waterfront Precinct for the Living City, the largest urban renewal project for Tasmania ever. During my time as Devonport Mayor I’ve been fully supportive of Living City and the significant economic benefits it will bring not only to Devonport but also to the whole of the North West Coast. As a Nationals Senator I am very proud to continue my support for strengthening our communities in moving forward and with this funding secured we will now be able to bring this Living City project to its full potential.
The project itself, with the $10 million, will fund the waterfront parklands as well as the public infrastructure side of the project itself. The Waterfront Precinct will consist of various amount of parkland. It will have an amphitheatre, a nature-based play space, a sculpture and public art park; an elevated platform with a viewing area right next door to a 150-room hotel and apartment complex, which will be adjacent to a marina and floating pontoon. With the linkages back through to the Paranaple Centre, the conference centre that we’re standing in here today; the Providore Place which will be a great food experience to any visitors to the area and of course our soon-to-be-relocated arts centre and information centre.
Living City is one of the largest projects ever on the North West Coast and in Tasmania. It’s around about $250 million worth of project and it will be going over 10 years. It will bring so much economic benefit right along to the North West of Tasmania going right down to the West Coast of Tasmania because it’s the transition point in the arrival of passengers and tourists on the Spirit of Tasmania and we’ll be hoping that they’ll see Devonport as somewhere they can base themselves and head west to enjoy what the rest of the North West Coast can offer.
The Living City project will bring significant benefits. It will have an ongoing hundreds of jobs during the construction phases and once the project is fully completed it will bring about an estimated 830 ongoing operational jobs which will inject $112 million into our local economy. And I stand here today as a very proud past mayor and certainly now as a Nationals Senator to have been able to secure the $10 million for the Waterfront Precinct Living City. I’ll now ask the Deputy Prime Minister to step forward and say a few words.
Well thank you my good friend and colleague Senator Steve Martin and as The Nationals Leader and as a regional member myself I can see what this project will do to transform Devonport. Look some might say that this is a revitalisation project for Devonport but I don’t agree with that because Devonport already is a vibrant, bustling place. I mean it’s got a population of more than 30,000. It’s a go-to destination for tourists. Certainly it was going to be a go-to destination for conferences and conventions. Devonport was already very well-placed. This is only going to enhance it. This is going to energise Devonport like never before and this is only made possible because of the great advocacy of my Nationals Senator Steve Martin, here in Tasmania, being a voice for the people.
I’m also delighted to be here with Acting Mayor Rockliff. Annette is very excited about this project. You couldn’t wipe the smile off her face this morning when we caught up. And also great to be down here with Senator Richard Colbeck doing a fantastic job in agriculture and aquaculture and all other things Tasmania but certainly as well with the Liberal candidate for Braddon, Brett Whiteley, and what a champion he is for this region. And certainly I hope that after Saturday’s by-election he’s back there, as a voice for the Liberals, for the Government, for Braddon. Making sure that the voice of Braddon is heard in Government. Making sure that the delivery – such as this that’s been made possible today by Senator Steve Martin from The Nationals – only continues for the people of Braddon.
As Steve has just said, this is going to create jobs, investment, tourist opportunities – all sorts of things for the people of Devonport but for the wider region and it’s really exciting. As The Nationals Leader and as I say, somebody from the regions, I understand that how important these investments are in our regions, making sure that we continue to provide jobs and confidence. This development alone is going to create even more jobs in not only in the construction phase but certainly going forward and the June job figures for Tasmania as a state – 2,100 jobs created by small business, by family enterprises, by medium enterprises. That is thanks to the economic confidence that’s been put in there by the Turnbull Government.
And so this is an exciting project. Delighted to be down here with Steve Martin and my Liberal colleagues. Looking forward to Saturday’s by-election and certainly wishing Brett Whiteley all the best. But I might ask Mayor Rockliff to say a few words as well about this Living City project.
Thank you Michael. Look it’s a great thrill for us to welcome you to our city this morning and certainly when you bring your chequebook, that’s even better. So we’re really excited about the opportunities that this part of the project brings. It’s been a process and certainly we’ve brought the community with us along the way and it’s wonderful now to be able to see it actually happening and to do the Waterfront Precinct, hopefully starting early next year, we will be able to complete that picture and bring this precinct up to what we have always dreamed it would be. To be able to open the waterfront to our main CBD has been part of this dream and certainly the $10 million will help us to do that. Council has allocated $5 million and of course there is a $40 million hotel precinct to be built which is a private investment.
So we’re really excited. We thank you so much. And we really appreciate Senator Martin’s continued interest in our city, even though his interests are obviously wider than just our city now, but we certainly appreciate that continued advocacy. And we really look forward to completing this part of the project. And we’ve already seen a great deal of private investment happening in our city on the back of this really tough decision that we made some years ago. And so that’s really exciting for us that what we’ve always envisaged happening on the back of this investment by our community – because it is our community that has invested this money – that that would promote this private investment that’s happening around our city only to look around at our city at the amount of buildings and shopfronts bringing together that dream that we had. So, we’re really excited. We thank you so much and bring it on.
[Laughs] Well yeah thank you Steven and thank you Deputy Prime Minister, it’s great to be here with Richard and Acting Mayor Rockliff. And this is an exciting day. Well done, Steven, I notice you’ve got your lucky negotiating tie on, which he wore, what, four years ago in fact when Steven Martin was the Mayor of Devonport and he together with his alderman colleagues and staff – and I want to acknowledge the efforts of Matthew Atkins here today and General Manager Paul West, who put the case when I was the Federal Member, for the first $10 million of seed funding for this tremendous project that Annette has just so aptly described. And that set this pathway going. And so, today with Steven’s ongoing support and efforts and negotiation alongside everyone that obviously supports the Living City project, it takes the Coalition Government's contribution, investment in this major community asset to $20 million. And I think that's a tremendous mark of confidence in what's happening here in North West Tasmania.
So congratulations to everybody for the efforts that they've put in in selling this project, promoting it and securing the total of $20 million, including the $10 million that Steven has negotiated so well over the last few months. So congratulations all round we look forward, Acting Mayor, to the jobs that are attached to the construction phase. It was wonderful just to be waiting earlier for you, Deputy Prime Minister, and to see the dozens and dozens of young tradespeople eager to be on the job, learning skills that are going to be so important as this community continues to grow its assets and its economic infrastructure. So congratulations all round, I wish you, Acting Mayor, and your team, all the very best as you continue to secure private investment. I look forward to seeing the hotel on the site that's just to the bottom of this building and I think that'll be another exciting part in the Living City journey. So thank you. Thank you Steven.
The Liberal Party were favourites to win Braddon but the party’s now talking down its chances. How much of a blow will it be if you don't win this seat?
No one’s talking down the prospects of Brett Whiteley. I'm looking very much forward to him being announced as the new Member for Braddon, I'm looking forward to him being re-elected as the Member for Braddon. I served with Brett Whiteley in the Parliament.
I've got every faith that he's going to do an outstanding job going forward. The people of North West Tasmania need a voice in government, they need a voice who can influence Ministers, who can make the sorts of announcements that we've been here making today. Now certainly I know he'll be working hard once re-elected - and I've got every faith that he will be, I've got every hope that he will be and we're not talking him down at all. But I look forward to him working with Richard Colbeck, with Senator Steve Martin and in Government you know as he did previously, making sure that he can have the ear of the Ministers who've got the cheque books and who can come to Devonport and elsewhere to make the sorts of announcements we've made this morning.
Why do you think people prefer Anthony Albanese to Bill Shorten?
Well that's a matter for Labor people. Both stand for higher taxes, both stand for less jobs and whether you've got Anthony Albanese or Bill Shorten leading the Labor Party, you've got the prospects of higher taxes for the people of Braddon, there's 2208 small businesses which will pay 27.5 per cent tax under Labor, 25 per cent under the Liberal Nationals. So those small business people are smart enough to work out that 2.5 per cent is a lot of money and it's money that they can reinvest in their own businesses, it's money that they can use to put on an apprentice for their first job or indeed an older Australian transitioning from one job to the other. So that's what Steve Martin, Richard Colbeck and Senator Steve Martin stand for; lower taxes, more job prospects.
Mr McCormack, a New South Wales farmer, according to The Telegraph, was planning to shoot his flock of 1,200 sheep because he can’t afford to feed them. Is this a failure of your Government’s policy that a farmer could get to that stage?
Well, it's a failure of it to rain. And certainly the Government can't make it rain and we've got every empathy for those farmers and certainly we're working very closely with farmers themselves, with the New South Wales Farmers, with the National Farmers Federation where I went on a drought tour with the Prime Minister, with the Agriculture Minister, only recently and we've put in place an extension to the Farm Household Assistance from three years to four years for eligibility for those farmers. We've put in place measures in the order of millions of dollars to help get a rural financial counsellor sitting around the kitchen table with affected farmers to help them work through their finances, to help them best meet their own needs. And certainly we've put in place a program whereby there is mental help available for those farmers. We're working closely in conjunction with the New South Wales Government, and State Governments generally are the ones who deal with freight subsidies and the like. And I've certainly been on the phone to the New South Wales Agriculture Minister Niall Blair and the Leader of The National Party and Deputy Premier, Acting Premier at the moment, John Barilaro, to see what further help we can provide. And I'm going back to Canberra this afternoon where I'll be discussing what other assistance measures we can do, with the Prime Minister.
What overall impact would it be if the Coalition was to lose the seat of Braddon?
Well we're not going to be talking about losing because we're going to be hopeful that Brett Whiteley can in fact win the seat of Braddon. But the pressure’s on Bill Shorten, it's not on the Liberal Party because at the end of the day, history shows that by-elections are hard to win for the Government sitting in power in Canberra. And history has a way of making it difficult for governments to actually win by-elections. But Brett Whiteley, he's a fighter, he's a great campaigner. But more than that, he’s a great listener. He’s out there listening to the people of Braddon and they’re telling him that they want a change. They want somebody who is around the seat of Government. They want somebody who has got the ear of the ministers, who’ve got the chequebooks and he’s certainly making sure that he’s getting out, talking to business people but he’s been doing that ever since there was a change in member here in Braddon. He hasn’t just sat idle. He’s been fighting hard for the people of Braddon ever since he was first elected and he’ll continue to do that.
Mr McCormack, what conclusions have you and the Nationals reached on developing a population policy?
Well look we need to make sure that our migrants and certainly we’ve got a cap of 190,000 migrants per year, we’re not actually reaching that quota at the moment, but I know in my regional area of Riverina in south-west New South Wales, we certainly welcome migrants to fill many of the jobs that otherwise aren’t being filled at the moment. Mark Coulton, the Member for Parkes in the Central West and North West of New South Wales, Mark has 2.2 per cent unemployment in Dubbo. Now that’s a fantastic result. That is, what you’d almost argue, full employment. There are still many jobs to be filled in rural and regional Australia because of the policies that the Turnbull Government has put into place that gives business the confidence to actually put on people. We’ve got free trade agreements with China, with South Korea and Japan, Peru and elsewhere, the Trans-Pacific Partnership 11 and many, many small businesses in rural and regional New South Wales. Indeed many farmers are taking advantage of those trade arrangements to put on people, to have the confidence to do that but we need more people to fill the jobs, to fill the growing food and fibre demand. And we need to make sure that we get the population balance right. We’ve got a decentralisation policy …
[Interrupts] Do you promise to have a population policy by the election?
Well we’ll be discussing that. Certainly we’ve got a policy whereby we’ve got decentralisation of certain public servants and certain agencies, but the push is on too to get a lot of businesses to realise that they can relocate out of the major capital cities where there is congestion problems; Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, there are congestion problems. And those businesses, those people, can indeed have a tree change, move inland, and live a great life in- and you only have to look around Tasmania at the prospects here. Tasmania is going very well under the Will Hodgman Government. I was first here as a Member of Parliament eight years ago and the transformation that I’ve seen from the Tasmania then to the Tasmania now is only due to the good policies of the Liberal Nationals Government and certainly the Will Hodgman Government here in Tassie.
Do you agree with Barnaby Joyce that people who oppose live sheep exports are zealots?
Well I think we need to- no, I know we need to continue the live sheep trade. It provides our farmers in Western Australia and South Australia in particular – the sheep also come from Victoria and New South Wales, but 90- more than 90 per cent of the sheep come from Western Australia and the proportion is filled by South Australian farmers, but those sheep need a market and the Middle Eastern countries want those sheep. And during the summer months, there's not a lot of ships go over overseas but we make sure that when the trade is most needed and that's in the northern summer months, you know, there's many, many ships taking many, many sheep overseas. And we're the only country in the world of the hundred that do live export which has an export assurance scheme in place to ensure that the welfare of the animals is front and centre. We've made sure under David Littleproud, the Agriculture Minister, that we've lowered the stocking density by 28 per cent which gives the sheep more than 38 per cent more room in their pens. We've put independent people on board those ships to monitor the welfare of the animals and we put videos also on board and those- that vision and the reports of the independent experts are being fed into the Department each and every day. So we're doing the right thing. We also call on the exporters to do the right thing, to make sure that the live sheep trade can continue and you do have a lot of people who want to shut down – they’re called Greens - they want to shut down every industry, not just live animal export, they want to shut down farming in general. They want to shut down the racehorse industry, our fifth largest industry in Australia. They have this notion that anything that puts meat on the plate of people whether they're domestic or overseas should be stopped.
So you're agreeing that they are zealots?
Well a lot of people are zealots in this regard, yes, I certainly agree with Barnaby on that score.
And would you support putting meningococcal B strain on the vaccination schedule?
Well we’ve been able- and look we will look at those sorts of things. The- certainly the independent authority that looks at what goes on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule is putting more and more drugs, more and more lifesaving drugs, and in fact the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, has put some lifesaving cancer drugs on the schedule just in recent times. You can only do that when you've got a strong economy. You can only do that when you've got the ability to actually pay for those lifesaving drugs. And so certainly the PBAC will look at what drugs are available, how it's going to help and look, any family that’s had a meningococcal scare, let alone a tragedy, knows all too well how quickly that particular disease can take hold.
So do you personally agree it should be on the schedule?
Well it's not up to me to decide. I'm not the Health Minister and I'm not- I don't sit on the committee which decides these things but as I say, when you've got a strong economy you can put more lifesaving drugs on the schedule. That's what we've been able to do. We haven't actually taken drugs off the schedule and we haven't actually overlooked drugs which is what unfortunately happened when Labor were in power in the six years of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years.
Thank you very much.