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Wednesday, 15 February 2012
Page: 1486

Mr SIDEBOTTOM (Braddon) (09:33): Good morning, colleagues. It is good to be back with you again. It is especially good because I can talk about my electorate of Braddon and some of the good news that has recently been announced in the far north-west in the Circular Head region, particularly in this Year of the Farmer, which we are all going to celebrate in this parliament with zest and eagerness. On Friday last, Minister Simon Crean, the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, came into the north-west to make two important announcements regarding some of the funding allocated to the intergovernmental agreement on forestry in Tasmania.

The two announcements were associated with the dairy industry in particular and agriculture in general. The first was the announcement of a $4.25 million investment in what is known as a new Agritas Trade College at Smithton. Essentially, this college will develop skills and careers in agriculture and most especially in dairying, which is expanding at an exponential rate in Tasmania, particularly on the north-west coast. It is a fantastic investment in careers. We know that wherever we go throughout Australia to talk with people from the agricultural community—and indeed in fishing and forestry—there is a need for skilled labour. These are developing into high-tech 21st century industries. This college, in conjunction with the Circular Head Christian School, the Smithton High School, the Polytechnic and the other educational services providers, along with the industry in Smithton, will make this a centrepiece of excellence for the development of careers and training in agriculture. Hopefully, this will not only remain in Tassie but be replicated throughout the rest of the country. To add to that, $1.5 million is to be invested in the upgrade of what we call the Harcus River Road and in the development of energy supplies to what is fundamentally a beef-producing area. This will help farmers upgrade to higher value, higher volume dairying and develop 27 more farms to increase the dairy output. That will augment the development of a multimillion dollar milk powder factory at Smithton, which is being developed at the same time. That is a good news story: great investment in a great industry in the Year of the Farmer.