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Tuesday, 24 February 2015
Page: 1193


Mr HUTCHINSON (Lyons) (21:14): When I was elected in September 2013, there were, along with many smaller commitments, two fundamental things that I wanted to do in the time that I was given in this place. One was to deliver on the tranche 2 irrigation schemes and the other was to find a solution to make Bass Strait part of the National Highway. Last week I was very pleased to say I have been able to deliver on the first of those commitments. I was very pleased to welcome Prime Minister Tony Abbott to my electorate, joined by my colleagues the member for Bass and the member for Braddon. He announced a $60 million commitment from the Commonwealth, to go with $30 million from the Tasmanian government and $30 million from Tasmanian farmers, to deliver the five schemes as part of the tranche 2 irrigation round. Three of those schemes are in Lyons.

This is part of this government's commitment to infrastructure. When you are driving up the Midlands Highway you can see the work that is occurring there, and the Hobart International Airport is going through the planning phase at the moment as part of the $38 million commitment there. The infrastructure commitment that was made this week is most welcome not only to the farmers but also to the local communities in my electorate and to the state of Tasmania more broadly. If you overlay that with a piece of economic infrastructure in respect of the free trade agreement, this is a really enormous opportunity for my state. It is a culmination of an enormous amount of work from a lot of people. I am not able to list all of them now, but I would like to specifically mention the people involved with Tasmanian Irrigation. The CEO of Tasmanian Irrigation, Chris Oldfield, has been a very strong advocate, as rightly he should be. The state government, through Minister Jeremy Rockliff and Premier Will Hodgman, has been a strong advocate for this. And it goes down to the local level. In the case of the Southern Highlands scheme, I give credit to Mayor Deirdre Flint, who has been a tireless advocate for the scheme in the Bothwell-Hamilton region, which is one of the most drought-prone areas of Tasmania. She has been ably supported by Richard Hallett and local farmer John Ramsey.

The east coast of Tasmania is an area where we will undoubtedly see more viticulture and more horticulture in the form of walnuts. The scheme over there has been driven very strongly by Tim Lyne, Adam Greenhill and others. Water will be purchased by businesses such as Brown Brothers, who have a vineyard on the east coast, and Walnuts Australia, who grow fine quality walnuts in that part of Tasmania.

In the North Esk, the scheme has been driven largely by people like Marcus McShane and Amy and Ben Grubb, who will all benefit from the scheme on the North Esk River. Once the winter flood take is put into a dam there, there will be no pumping on a scheme. You will be able to generate hydro-electricity off this scheme. This is really smart engineering. Most of all, this will be creating jobs in regional Tasmania—and goodness knows we need that. And it is not just jobs, but careers in agriculture. These are the sorts of things that will open doors for more and more young people in my state.

I was very pleased a number of months ago to have the Prime Minister down to look at the largest of the schemes that we have already commissioned in Tasmania, which is the Midlands scheme. I took him to the very small town of Tunbridge in central Tasmania. Perhaps Joseph Lyons is the only other Prime Minister who has visited the town of Tunbridge. As a direct result of the irrigation investment there, $6 billion of private capital has gone into building a dairy in what was traditionally very dry sheep and cropping country. So these are the sorts of things we are seeing. This is summer irrigation water that is 95 per cent secure. These are significant opportunities for farmers to expand their businesses. It provides them with the confidence to be able to invest and diversify.

I would point out to those on 'the big island'—'the North Island', if you will—that $1 billion of investment has gone into 15 water schemes in Tasmania, $600 million of which has come directly from farmers. Yes, 12 per cent of the nation's rainfall lands on Tasmania's landmass, which is two per cent of Australia's landmass, but this is significant by any measure. This is larger than the Ord River and it will unlock the potential of our state to deliver high-quality food and fibre to the rest of the world.