Press Conference with Senator Anthony Chisholm and Senator Helen Polley
HELEN POLLEY: Good morning, everyone. It's great to be here today with Senator Anthony Chisholm, the Assistant Minister for Education and also for Regional Development. We've had a great start to this morning, but it's particularly pleasing today to be here to talk about primary investment that the Albanese Labor Government is making to bridges right through Tasmania. Because this is going to be beneficial not only for road users, businesses and people that are moving freight. So, I'm very proud to be here and I support all of those who work in the transport sector and for the benefit this is going to bring to the local economy, here in Tasmania. Anthony.
ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Thanks, Helen, and it's good to be with you with Launceston this morning. I spent yesterday in Burnie, Launceston today and then travelling to Hobart this afternoon. And we know that the regional economy is so important, and the Albanese government wants to be a government for all of Australia. So, we want to support important projects that we know create economic opportunity, create more jobs, but also create safer communities as well.
So that's why I'm really pleased to announce that we will commit money as part of the freight upgrade program to strengthen the Charles Street bridge and that will provide more ability for trucks to access and provide a safer option and it'll mean that we'll be creating jobs and economic opportunity across this region at the same time. So, we think this is an important programme for Tasmania. It's one that's been successful over the last couple of years and we're very pleased, as part of the Albanese government, to partner with the state government to ensure that this program continues and creates economic opportunity, but also creates safer travel as well for road-using Tasmanians.
JOURNALIST: The Charles Street Bridge is the main arterial road through Launceston. What impact does it have on traffic and what are the benefits of this upgrade?
ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Well, obviously there'll be more capacity. It’ll also mean that bigger trucks will be able to be used in a safer way. So, that's obviously good for economic opportunity. It's also safe and affordable for the community at the same time. We think it's an important infrastructure upgrade, but it's one that ticks a lot of boxes for the local community at the same time.
JOURNALIST: How long will a bridge like that take?
ANTHONY CHISHOLM: It will go to tender in a couple of months and then construction will start later in the year, so that will be determined as part of that process. But we're hopeful that there'll be plenty of people willing and able to work locally who'll be able to dedicate time to upgrade this important facility.
JOURNALIST: How much is it going to cost?
ANTHONY CHISHOLM: That will be determined through the tender process but the program itself that is available is $100 million. $80 million dollars of that is from the federal government and then there's a $20 million contribution from the state government. So, it's really pleasing that we're able to work with both levels of government to ensure that these projects can happen. And they'll also provide important economic boost, local jobs as well.
JOURNALIST: Which other bridges are slated for upgrades?
ANTHONY CHISHOLM: They're available in the program as well. So, this is one of the first ones that will be announced, that we're announcing today. But there will be other bridge upgrades and road upgrades as well.
JOURNALIST: There’s been talk for a long time about a Launceston bypass. Is this sort of the nail in the coffin for that?
ANTHONY CHISHOLM: Well, I think this is an important local project. I wouldn't want to pre-judge what happens with other road projects. But this shows the federal government's commitment to Launceston, commitment to local projects. And also working with the state government where possible to support these local opportunities.
JOURNALIST: Can I ask, Senator Polley a few questions just so I get some voices? Senator, what impact does this have locally if you live in Launceston? What's it like at the moment?
HELEN POLLEY: I think this will be a really good investment in terms of our freight and moving freight around the north of the state, also for local users. And any investment in infrastructure is going to be beneficial for the job that it creates and the confidence that it gives to the local economy.
JOURNALIST: Why was the Charles Street Bridge chosen out of all of the infrastructure projects in Tasmania?
HELEN POLLEY: Well, it was one that we thought was so critical to Northern Tasmania. It is, as you said, it was a very important piece of infrastructure. It's a main arterial road through Launceston currently. So, that investment is good for road users, as I said, but also for those moving freight and within the transport sector. We need to give them the confidence to keep investing.
JOURNALIST: Is there anything else? Fantastic.
HELEN POLLEY: Thank you for coming out on this humid day here Northern Tasmania.