Once again major road infrastructure is being promised for key Tasmanian electorates in the lead up to a federal election. The lion’s share of these funds go to three of Tasmania’s electorates: the north-west seat of Braddon, central Lyons and the southern electorate of Franklin all receiving more than $100 million each for road and infrastructure projects.
However, consistent with many other infrastructure ‘announceables’, less than a quarter of this funding will be delivered by 2025, according to the Examiner.
The north-east electorate of Bass will receive a similar amount including for projects to reduce kanamaluka/Tamar River pollution and improve estuarine health.
The firmly independent-voting electorate of Clark has been largely ignored, much to the dismay of Andrew Wilkie who has described the glaring omission as ‘blatant pork-barelling’. The seat does, however, receive $2 million previously allocated to the Holocaust Education and Interpretation Centre in Hobart.
No doubt Tasmanians will be pleased with the additional spending on health, tax cuts, education, childcare, reducing domestic violence and aged care for the state’s ageing population. Federal funding will build on state commitments, such as improving regional mental health facilities.
In an all too familiar refrain, the optimistic spending spree in this year’s budget does not extend to Tasmania’s environment, beyond kanamaluka/Tamar estuary, or to addressing climate change.
While there is action planned to improve the protection of Australia’s ocean to the value of $100 million, this looks set to exclude Tasmanian coastal waters (within three nautical miles).
Further, the potential weakening of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (currently before a Senate committee), is reflected in the allocation of $9 million (pp33) over the forward estimates to establish the office of the ‘Environment Assurance Commissioner’, the proposed structure of which is unanimously rejected by environmental NGOs.
It could be said that Federal and Tasmanian governments are working harmoniously to deliver spending on priority projects. It also appears they are in lockstep ignoring issues that matter to many Tasmanians.