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Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Page: 11582

Ms COLLINS (7:44 PM) —I rise tonight to update the House on a number of infrastructure measures and projects across the electorate that I represent: the seat of Franklin. The Rudd government has been rock solid, as we know, in its commitment to ensure Australia progresses with many of the measures announced in our first 12 months having a strong focus around nation building. I would like to start by talking about the community infrastructure package that will support local projects and local people. A hive of infrastructure activity is set to begin across my electorate over the next 12 to 24 months, as it is in many others across the nation, thanks to an injection of much needed funds into local economies.

Last week the Rudd government offered Tasmanian councils $8.25 million. It is a boost to the local economy and it is of benefit to the people of Tasmania. Of course I am talking about the $300 million community infrastructure stimulus package: the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program, announced by Anthony Albanese and Prime Minister Rudd last week. This program is designed to help local communities weather the global financial crisis. Local councils across the seat of Franklin will have an opportunity to build local projects. The allocation on offer to local councils in my electorate of Franklin is $1.7 million. There will be a flurry of building and construction over the next 12 months as halls, community centres and parks are built, refurbished or upgraded. Supporting projects that stimulate the local economy is a common-sense measure. It is a measure that will support local jobs. It will provide practical community infrastructure for the long term. There is also money set aside—$50 million nationally—for projects seeking $2 million or more. I know that local councils across southern Tasmania have, over the past few days, started to collate and develop projects that are significant upgrades or new constructions to improve local community facilities. In fact, I and other local members in Tasmania have written to councils to encourage them to start getting those projects together.

The Rudd government has also invested in local councils with its financial assistance grants program in 2008-09, with $61 million being the highest level of funding ever provided to local councils in Tasmania. This will be used to build local roads, maintain parks and ensure the continuation of vital local services. The councils in my electorate have been allocated $8.5 million in 2008-09. That is a significant increase on funding before. It is also worth mentioning that this funding is on top of the money that the Rudd government has made available to councils this year from the Roads to Recovery program. The Roads to Recovery program to date has delivered much needed funding—worth $1.5 million—to councils in my electorate so that urgent safety repairs and upgrades to local roads can occur.

On a larger scale we will start to see the bigger infrastructure projects that were Labor election commitments like the Kingston bypass. The planning work and concept plans for the bypass have now been finalised. The Kingston bypass is going ahead. It is expected that a public display of the project will be available to local residents to view prior to Christmas. The bypass will provide improved traffic flows while at the same time improve the safety of motorists. Construction will commence next year and the completion date is scheduled for June 2012. Improving roads for Tasmanian motorists is a priority for the Rudd government. Equally, it is a priority for me to ensure my constituents have access to modern and safe transport infrastructure. The Kingborough municipality is one of the fastest growing areas in Tasmania, and I am acutely aware of how important the Kingston bypass will be to motorists of Kingston, Blackman’s Bay and the Channel area. As the federal member for Franklin, I have listened closely to my constituents. They have waited not months but years for this project and, after almost 12 years of inaction by the former Liberal government, I am proud to report that this project is moving forward and it will become a reality. It is an election commitment that we, the Rudd government, will deliver on.

Another infrastructure project in southern Tasmania is the upgrade of the Bridgewater Bridge. Money was allocated in this year’s budget. Investigations and designs for the refurbishment have already commenced. We know that, while those opposite were in government, around 90 per cent of road funding under AusLink was allocated to the north of Tasmania. For a long time the southern roads in Tasmania were ignored, but no longer. Projects like the Kingston bypass, the Bridgewater Bridge and others in neighbouring electorates such as the Brighton transport hub are about addressing real need in southern Tasmania. They are about improving the productive capacity in our economy. The funding under Labor is a strategic investment; it is not the pork barrelling undertaken by those opposite. So, as you can see, Deputy Speaker Burke, there is a lot happening across the seat of Franklin, but, more importantly, over the next few years we will see a steady increase in the number of infrastructure projects that will boost the local economy. Despite the global financial crisis, there are many positive measures happening on both a local and a national level. I look forward to seeing firsthand the positive results in Franklin thanks to the Rudd government’s funding measures.