Interview on Triple M Hobart

BRIAN CARLTON

Let's talk in relation to the COVID-19 response, the additional infrastructure spend that you've jointly announced with the Gutwein Government not too long ago. I notice we're getting down to some fairly small projects by Government spending terms. For example, pedestrian underpass on the Midland Highway at Campbell Town, Federal funding $4.8 million, $6 million in total, so $1.2 million from the State Government, so these are all, sort of, little projects that are shovel-ready, are they?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

They are. They're shovel-ready projects and what the important thing about them is that they give local workers and local procurement happening and that's what we want to see happening. We want to see excavators on the ground, high-vis workers in and around these projects, which, as you just described, are shovel-ready. $46 million, we've partnered up with the Gutwein Government, I know Michael Ferguson is very, very pleased with these projects and yes, they are very small by standards, I suppose, nationally, but they're very, very important.

BRIAN CARLTON

So this is all new money, is it, in addition to the $400 million that was promised for Tasmanian roads before the last election?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Yes, it's new money for Tasmania. We're bringing it forward.

BRIAN CARLTON

So the $400 million's already been spent, has it? Where?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

No, no, we're spending it like I said before, it's a 10-year infrastructure plan for Tasmania. We're getting right into these shovel-ready infrastructure projects. Other things such as, of course, the continuation of developments on the Bass and Midland Highways, Perth Links Road, all those sorts of projects we're making sure that whether it's the vital highways or the little by-ways, they're getting built. A 10-year plan – Tasmania is certainly very much a part of the national infrastructure roll-out and what I particularly like are comments like the one at the Perth Links Road [inaudible] said to me when I said, "where do you get all the people from?" He said, "we develop from within." So there will be work there for Tasmanians who are looking for work. I'm sure there is going to be plenty of work in our infrastructure roll-out and Michael Ferguson and I are making sure of that.

BRIAN CARLTON

Do you know how many jobs are likely to be created as a result of this additional spending?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I'm going to say hundreds because I notice that the new, well – new after a 25-year break – NBL team are back in the fold. I did read somewhere where that's going to create up to 1200 jobs. That's significant and …

BRIAN CARLTON

That's largely a part of the redevelopment of the Derwent Entertainment Centre.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Indeed. Fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. So it's those sorts of things which are going to develop state tourism. Those sorts of things which are going to help regional development and certainly there is going to be plenty of jobs created across Tasmania with this $46 million spend – unlocking infrastructure jobs, unlocking the potential of Tasmania and whether it's the north-west where Gavin and Bridget and others are representing or whether it's right down in Hobart, there's going to be jobs there, there's going to be infrastructure upgrades and it's going to be good.

BRIAN CARLTON

Just one final one if I may, there's all sorts of anecdotal evidence at the moment from the mainland and here in Tassie suggesting that there's going to be, post-coronavirus, a pretty significant outflow of people from the big cities who are just kind of sort of collectively over it now and this is likely to see a boom in people moving to regional Australia. With a specific focus on Tasmania, do you think the infrastructure spending that's been announced so far is adequate to deal with what's likely to be a massive population inflow from the mainland to Tassie over the next couple of years?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I'll quickly answer that by saying yes but watch this space, there will be more. We want people to know that Tasmania is a place where they can go to escape the hassle, the hustle, the bustle of the big metropolitan areas …

BRIAN CARLTON

This is not something that's happening in the future. It's happening right now.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

It's happening in my area, it's happening in regional Tassie and people can own a big backyard, they can get to work in 5 minutes without having to be slowed up by traffic, they can have all the right telecommunications, everything else that city living enjoys and if there's one thing that COVID-19 has taught us, you can work from anywhere in Australia and still get the productivity happening in your business, in your workplace, whether you're a worker or whether you're a boss. It's great and that's why we are rolling out this infrastructure and as I say, Michael and I will be working hard to make sure there's even more money being spent in Tasmania.

BRIAN CARLTON

So you're suggesting there will be more Federal spending announced that will be deliberately and specifically targeting this expected up tick of people moving into regional Australia, all over Australia?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Indeed. I'm a regional Member. I understand and value the importance of regional living and so does Michael Ferguson, so do our great Liberal Tasmania representatives down there.

BRIAN CARLTON

Appreciate your time this morning, sir. Thank you. You've been generous. Thanks.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Always. No worries.

BRIAN CARLTON

Michael McCormack, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Regional Development, all of which are pretty significant issues for us here.

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