Labor has called for development of a tailored recovery package for the North West and West Coast of Tasmania, the region of the state hardest hit by COVID-19.
The Labor Members for Braddon, Anita Dow and Shane Broad, said the North West outbreak and associated extended lockdown period had meant the impacts of COVID-19 had been deeper and will be felt for longer than in other parts of the state.
“We’ve experienced firsthand the impact of significant economic downturns in the past. It will take the North West some time to recover from this crisis, particularly given its high exposure to global markets,” Ms Dow said.
“This region also hasn’t experienced the same level of economic growth as other parts of the state in recent years and we have skills shortages, poorer health and educational outcomes and an ageing population. This made us more vulnerable to COVID.
“There’s a need for targeted investment in the North West, similar to what has occurred in the wake of previous economic shocks.
“While this should include support for industry and infrastructure investment, it must also address the underlying socioeconomic deficits in our regional economy.
“A tailored recovery package would include targeted investment in important regional infrastructure projects to stimulate the regional economy, providing local businesses with the confidence to re-open and re-employ local people.
“Labor sees the priority projects that need fast tracking include the Coastal Pathway, Cooee Crawl, Cradle Mountain redevelopment, Burnie Port, Bass Highway upgrade and progressing the Next Iconic Walk on the West Coast.
“We want the Government to commit to supporting key industries including regional tourism, advanced manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, aquaculture, renewable energy and construction.
“There also needs to be investment in regional health and improvements to facilities at local schools.”
Dr Broad said Labor also supported a proposal to provide free travel on the Spirit of Tasmania.
“The Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania proposal to consider extending the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Scheme (BSPVES) to make car trips on the ferry free could be just what our economy needs coming out of the COVID-19 crisis,” Dr Broad said.
“The development of a recovery package for the North West and West Coast should involve all key industries and regional stakeholders.
“A recovery package is best designed by locals, for locals, and would build on regional development work already undertaken by key groups including the Cradle Coast Authority, local chambers of commerce and regional tourism leaders prior to the COVID-19 crisis.
“There is an opportunity right now for all levels of government to take a coordinated, localised approach focusing on regional health, social and economic wellbeing and working with local communities and industries as we navigate the difficult pathway to recovery.
“Multiple sectors will be an essential part of a strong recovery for the North West. Consideration needs to be given to what support is needed for sectors including regional tourism, manufacturing and primary industries among others.
“Importantly, a recovery package must support Tasmanians to upskill or retrain to provide industry with job-ready workers in key growth sectors and industries with skills shortages.
“It must be top of mind for all of us to buy local, build local and employ local.
“This is a time when the whole community must work towards the same goal of economic and social recovery, to ensure this part of the state doesn’t remain stuck in disadvantage.”
Anita Dow MP
Labor Member for Braddon
Shane Broad MP
Labor Member for Braddon