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Tuesday, 14 February 2017
Page: 873

Senator URQUHART (TasmaniaOpposition Whip in the Senate) (19:49): Cradle Mountain is a globally-recognised natural landmark. The look on a visitor's face the first time they gaze up at its presence and beauty is why its tourism potential has been recognised for over a century. It was in 1911 that Austrian naturalist Gustav Weindorfer bought land in Cradle Valley and built the original 'Waldheim' chalet for guests to use as a base when exploring the region. Our First Australians have used the land for at least 10,000 years, with the valley and surrounding area containing many Aboriginal living areas and sites. Cradle, as it is affectionately known, attracts over 200,000 visitors each year and, in the second half of 2016, there was a 20 per cent increase in visitor numbers compared to the same period the year before. These visitors support thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of investment both in the valley and across Northern Tasmania. To meet the expectations of visitors and to ensure we continue to preserve the valley, urgent infrastructure upgrades are needed at Cradle.

The Tasmanian National Parks Service, Tourism Industry Council Tasmania, Kentish Council and the regional Cradle Coast Authority developed the Cradle Mountain Master Plan, which they presented to all political parties before last year's election. Labor made a commitment of federal funding of $15 million, but the federal Liberals, despite their slogan of 'jobs and growth' and despite the then federal tourism minister living just an hour away, could only stump up $1 million for a feasibility study. What has developed in the seven months since the election demonstrates how little the Liberals care about Tasmania. Prime Minister Turnbull and then tourism minister Senator Colbeck made a clear commitment during the election. Despite his appalling result in Tasmania, the Prime Minister must honour his commitments to the Tasmanian people and deliver the promised funds.

But today we have learnt that the process for delivering just the $1 million for the feasibility study is to give the money to the state government first. Instead of the funding being administered by the Commonwealth and delivered directly to the Cradle Coast Authority, an organisation which regularly receives direct Commonwealth grants and is equipped to manage them, the federal and state Liberals have decided to deliver the money to the Cradle Coast Authority through the state government's great bureaucratic white elephant, the Coordinator-General. I note that when announced by the state Liberals the Coordinator-General was meant to attract new investment to the state, not manage Commonwealth grants that could be managed directly.

The people of Tasmania are crying out for new investment. Whether the conservative ideologues in the Liberal Party like it or not, there is a strong role for government in attracting investment to Tasmania. What we need for investment is certainty, not silly games from a government that continues to fight within itself rather than get on with the job that the Tasmanian people deserve. Tonight, I call on the Prime Minister and Senators Abetz, Bushby, Parry and Duniam to do what Labor did in government—hunt as a pack and deliver for Tasmania. Senators, you need to go and demand that the Prime Minister and the minister responsible deliver the funds as per the Prime Minister's election commitment, and then follow it up with constant pressure to ensure the Prime Minister matches the commitments of federal Labor and your state Liberal colleagues of $15 million from each jurisdiction. Use the government investment to attract private investment and get the development started.

The project is the No.1 priority for Tasmania's tourism industry and is supported by all levels of government. The development will generate 145 full-time jobs during construction and 113 new full-time jobs once complete. It will support thousands more jobs in both the Cradle Valley and across northern Tasmania. It will give tourists from across the world a sensational experience as they enter the valley. It will deliver a second 'wow' that supplements that natural beauty. The Cradle Coast Authority recently said that visitors are reporting disappointment with the sense of arrival at the valley. Therefore, it is a real risk that the attractiveness of Cradle will be overtaken by other sites.

The chase for tourists only gets harder each year. This project must be supported properly by this government. I urge the government to get on with the job of governing and deliver their election commitments to the people of Tasmania.