Thursday 30 October 2008-11-14
Hansard of the Legislative Council
Special Interest Speech
Mr FINCH (Rosevears)- Madam President, the Treasurer was quoted in the media a few weeks ago that he is open to persuasion about priorities and expenditure levels in next year's Budget. Unfortunately, of course, the world financial crisis has moved rapidly since then and some Commonwealth and State spending on infrastructure will be brought forward.
The Treasurer also announced last week that the State financial reports would be available before Christmas -
Mr Aird - Mid-year report.
Mr FINCH - so work is being done.
Madam President, in inviting budget submissions by the end of next month, the Treasurer said past contributions have had an impact on budget allocations. He seemed very receptive about the next Budget and I am sure people are grateful for that.
There is no doubt that timely spending on infrastructure is a great stimulus in a depressed economy. It creates jobs and stimulates by increasing spending in many sectors, including the retail sector. We end up with infrastructure that helps industry to operate more effectively and gives communities badly needed facilities. How quickly a world crisis changes the thinking of governments. Not so long ago the name of John Maynard Keynes was little used in most circles and now there is renewed support for Keynes' concepts of spending to stimulate depressed economies. Some are even talking about Roosevelt's new deal after the Great Depression. The people of my electorate welcome the prospect of a stimulus to infrastructure spending. We have a number of ideas to put to the Treasurer.
The Federal member for Bass has already mentioned the possibility of some of the Prime Minister's $10-plus billion being spent on the Frankford main road. That is our vital link between the West Tamar in my electorate of Rosevears and Devonport and the north-west coast. My constituents hope that the Frankford main road will become the Frankford highway, as I have referred to in the past. We hope that will come up in the next few years. They are also interested in the concept of the West Tamar trail, which I have talked about here often enough, providing safe bike and pedestrian links between West Tamar centres, particularly Exeter, Beaconsfield and Beauty Point. My electorate could be described as long and narrow. It stretches from West Launceston to the mouth of the Tamar. This presents transport and access problems for many of my constituents. As our driving costs increase, many communities want that alternative that could be offered by the West Tamar trail. That type of infrastructure does not cost billions but it greatly contributes to community wellbeing.
There is no shortage of ideas for infrastructure improvements in my electorate, but the Treasurer will want to concentrate on priorities and fairness. We just want our share. In his invitation to the public he cited the case of an extra allocation of $12 million for national parks. That spending has made a big difference to the Cradle Mountain experience for visitors, for example. Rosevears has Narawntapu, a national park right on our doorstep. It is often called the Serengeti of Tasmania because of its amazing variety of animals. Remember Harry Butler who had the television show? He thought it was the most heavily-populated location in Australia that he had ever seen, when he toured Narawntapu. That would benefit from more tracks and walkways and improved access roads. The main access road from the Frankford Road is a circuitous route for tourists and is very badly surfaced in places. However, the road from the West Tamar Highway near York Town to Badger Head might have better access potential if it was improved and extended. That is a project well worth looking at.
Speaking to the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service annual conference in September, the ANZ Bank's chief economist, Saul Eslake, stated that the value of parks to Tasmania's economy is more than simply the tourist dollars they bring in or the jobs that they create. He went on to say - and I will quote him:
'They are also an integral part of creating the vision of a Tasmania producing highly differentiated goods and services embodying a high intellectual content and for which customers are willing to pay premium prices.'
Madam President, as you know, there have been speeches in the Chamber about a 'toilet-led economy'. I have heard them myself. Public toilet facilities for travellers and visitors in Tasmania are improving but they have a long way to go. If you want a good example of how good toilet facilities can stimulate a local economy, all we have to do is glance at Campbell Town on the way through. A dying main street has been transformed into a vital strip where it is hard to find a parking space, particularly near the toilets. Public toilets do not require a great deal of infrastructure spending. Projects such as public toilet facilities, bike and walking trails and improvements to National Park infrastructure provide some of the biggest bang for bucks spent to stimulate local economies and help communities get through a depression, or at least financial uncertainty.
Madam PRESIDENT - We never have a speech from the member for Rosevears where he does not end up back in the sewer.
Madam PRESIDENT - We thank you for that contribution.