Dr Abroad raises White flag on Tasmanian jobs

Michael Ferguson,Minister for Infrastructure and Transport

Tasmania’s economic recovery depends on making decisions that are in the greatest interest of our State. Decisions that can stimulate the local economy, see investment stay locally and create more local jobs.

When faced with a choice to invest around $850 million overseas, the Tasmanian Government decided to take one final opportunity to explore all our options in maximising the benefits for Tasmanian businesses and the people they employ and the families they support.

With an estimated 1500 jobs potentially created, it would be negligent of the Government to not explore every possible opportunity for at least some of those jobs to go to Tasmanians.

Assertions made in the report that the Government’s decision to establish the Taskforce followed intervention by the Commonwealth Government are just that: baseless assertions. The Premier did state that he had discussed the matter with the Prime Minister, as he does on a range of matters, but this is a decision that was taken directly by the Tasmanian Government for the purpose of exploring local job opportunities.

So determined is Labor to doggedly oppose any decision of the Government it has now commissioned its own negative report into the ships replacement as part of its relentless attempts to undermine any potential local involvement in this massive investment.

The Eslake report is out of date already, and based on assumption and rumour. The government dealt with Labor’s false claims about having chosen a preferred builder in Parliament last week.

We commissioned a taskforce to work through the process of fully exploring all local and national options and possibilities before we return to the market and we placed a six-month pause on the procurement process to allow the taskforce time to work through this process. The Taskforce started its work in August.

Claims from the Labor opposition of delays to 2028 are wrong. The current vessels have an optimal lifespan to 2028, the Government has been crystal clear that we are committed to replacing the vessels before they approach that date.

Despite the report’s misplaced focus on one particular shipbuilder, and Labor’s completely false claim that the Government has found a preferred shipbuilder, we have paused the process for 6 months to do this work. We await the recommendations of the taskforce which is due to report back early next year.

It beggars belief that Rebecca White and Shane Broad are out there flying the flag for overseas employment and have given up on even considering Australian and Tasmanian businesses and jobs.

They are so far off the mark that even Federal Labor doesn’t support their stance. Even their unions have abandoned them and expressed their support for the Government’s decision.

With such a significant investment at stake, it makes sense to have a look at any ways we can maximise Tasmanian jobs in the replacement of the Spirit of Tasmania vessels. We will never apologise for this.

As we have been very clear, it may remain for us to purchase the European vessels, and expect Tasmanian businesses to play a greater role. Even a fraction of the overall purchase would create highly paid jobs here. Another option is an Australian bid. We are being responsible and pro-Tasmanian jobs in taking this approach. How could any political party oppose it?

The Liberal Government is unashamedly backing Tasmanian manufacturers and jobs at a time of increased unemployment due to the pandemic; Rebecca White and Labor are now officially anti-Tasmanian jobs.

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