Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
MATHIAS CORMANN: It is great to be here this morning to announce $4.8 million in Federal funding towards the next stage of the Cradle Coast Coastal Pathway. It is great to be here this morning at the invitation of Senator Steve Martin, who on becoming Senator for Tasmania, raised this as one of the key projects on his agenda. As a former Mayor of the City of Devonport, he is very familiar with this particular project, which is a very important project, which will help to improve connections both for residents and for tourists across a 110km stretch of coastal pathway. It is also great to be here with my Federal Liberal Parliamentary colleagues in Senator Richard Colbeck and Senator Jonathon Duniam and the recently endorsed Liberal candidate for the seat of Braddon Brett Whiteley. Brett Whiteley in a past life as a hard working Federal Member for the seat of Braddon between 2013 and 2016, also contributed a lot, working with Steve Martin in his then capacity as the Mayor of Devonport in relation to this particular project. It is a great day. Tomorrow there will be some further announcements. The Prime Minister will be visiting Tasmania very soon and we will have some more to say about our Federal contributions and investments here in Tasmania. In this most recent Budget, we invested nearly $1 billion in additional infrastructure funding into Tasmania, which is a record amount. I should also say it is great to be here with the Chair of the Cradle Coast Authority, Sid Sidebottom, who also has a long association with this community. Without any further ado, if I can ask Senator Martin to say a few words.
SENATOR MARTIN: Thank you very much Minister and welcome to Tasmania. It is great to be here today with this announcement of $4.8 million. The Cradle Coast Coastal Pathway is a shared pathway for cyclists and pedestrians that will link five municipalities and a total of around about 110km spanning the coast from Latrobe right through to Wynyard. I certainly thank the Minister for Finance, Senator Mathias Cormann for his work in helping to secure this funding for this valuable project for the North West coast and for Tasmania. This project itself is a three way partnership between the Cradle Coast Authority, the State and the Federal Government. It is estimated to be around about $26.5 million cost at the end of the project and it will link, as I said, five municipalities. It will entice, not only people locally, from around Tasmania, interstate and internationally who come to this area and it will generate around about $17 million of economic impact. Comparing that with 97 ongoing jobs, it is certainly a significant project for the area. We are also happy that it is going to eventually link up the five municipalities and create an opportunity to encourage local residents to get out and have a walk or have a cycle, or even have a run along the pathway. I am not quite sure if they will run from Latrobe to Wynyard, it might be another event we can think up, bit of a challenge. For the North West coast, this is an exceptional program and having the connection to the city of Devonport, we will see a lot of cyclists come off there already. It opens up the opportunity for them to come along the pathway and to enjoy the local produce that will be on offer, such as strawberries and that is why we are here at the Berry Patch at Turners Beach today. Thank you again Minister, it has been great for you to come on board, for the $4.8 million and I look forward for the realisation of the total project.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Before we get to questions, we also have the Chair of the Cradle Coast Authority who is going to say a few words.
SID SIDEBOTTOM: Thank you very much and good morning. On behalf of the Cradle Coast Authority and the nine Member Councils of our region, represented by our leaders of the Representatives Committee, Mayor Jan Bond and Mayor Peter Freshney, I would like to thank you Steve Martin, in particular for taking up this case, this cause, this project and also to the Federal Government through you Minister. Thank you very much and your reps for supporting what is a major regional project, which people will benefit from both in terms of job creation, but also health and wellbeing and also as part of the visitor economy. We know very much that cycling is very much part of the visitor economy and of course I could not think of a greater place and a better looking place to be cycling. So we thank you very, very much on behalf of our community. Our councils have co-contributed to this funding, so it is $4.8 million from councils, $4.8 million now from the Federal Government and we are very grateful and we now look to our State Government to enter into partnership with us and we will continue our discussions with the State Government to match this funding. So we thank you very much and we look forward to you returning again, on a cycle or a run, or pushing a pram or whatever the case may be.
MATHIAS CORMANN: It will not be a pretty sight.
SID SIDEBOTTOM: Well you look a hell of a lot prettier than me, so thank you very much.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Happy to take questions.
QUESTION: Senator Martin are you going to rule out now joining the Liberal Party?
SENATOR MARTIN: Look, I have been here five minutes and I think that is pre-mature to be asking any questions like that. I am focusing on working for Tasmania and on working with the Government to get the best outcomes for Tasmania.
QUESTION: Steve, just onto this pathway, how do you expect these jobs to be ongoing if it is just constructing a pathway?
SENATOR MARTIN: It is not only about the construction of the pathway, it is about the economic opportunity that it presents of having cyclists and pedestrians walking past places like the Berry Patch. I would hope there will be other opportunities for businesses to link up with the pathway and create a wonderful, tasting walkway or cycling pathway that will produce those ongoing jobs.
QUESTION: How much of any of the pathway is going to have disused rail corridors, because there is some opposition from rail enthusiasts about these types of projects.
SENATOR MARTIN: I think you are better off to ask the Cradle Coast Authority for that specific information. There is some rail corridors, but I think you will need to ask them for the overall plan.
QUESTION: If asked formally, would you join the Liberal Party and have there been any discussions, informal or formal about joining the Liberal Party, Senator?
SENATOR MARTIN: I have not been approached by the Liberal Party at any stage.
QUESTION: Would you join if asked?
SENATOR MARTIN : That is pre-mature isn’t it? I am going to get on with working for the benefit of Tasmanians.
QUESTION: Minister you have received the GST report today. Why are you not releasing that sooner rather than later?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I have spoken to the Treasurer about this today. It will be released over the next month. In the first instance the Treasurer will want to brief the Cabinet and he will want to brief his State and Territory Treasury colleagues. We think that is appropriate. It will be released in the not too distant future.
QUESTION: Do you think it is bad news for Tasmania?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The guarantee that we can give as a Federal Government, bearing in mind that in this Budget, $6.1 billion in additional GST payments are made to the States, $6.1 billion in additional GST payments. That means more money to Tasmania. It means more money for Tasmanian hospitals and schools and all of the services that the State Government here funds. The guarantee that we can give to all Tasmanians, is that Tasmania will not get a cent less than what has been committed after we have responded to the Productivity Commission report.
QUESTION: Your colleague Kelly O’Dwyer is putting thousands of dollars into a fund to get more women in Parliament. Will you join her in these efforts?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I think it is a great initiative. I do not personally have $50,000 in spare cash lying around, but I certainly think it is a great initiative on her part.
QUESTION: Just to clarify, you are guaranteeing that Tasmania will not be worse off after the Government has…interrupted
MATHIAS CORMANN: What I have said is that the Government gives its absolute guarantee to Tasmania that Tasmania will not be a cent worse off at the end of this process. In fact, in this most recent Budget, as I have just indicated, $6.1 billion in additional GST payments are made by the Federal Government to all of the States, which also included additional GST payments to Tasmania. That comes on top of all of the other additional Federal funding commitments to Tasmania, a 42 per cent increase in federal funding for hospitals in Tasmania in the period that we have been in Government and that funding continues to increase. When it comes to the GST specifically, what we have said very clearly is that Tasmania will not get a cent less than what has been committed and what has been committed is more than what was previously on the table.
QUESTION: When do you expect to brief the Tasmanian Government on the findings of the review?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Productivity Commission reports to the Treasurer. This is a report not by the Government, it is a report to the Government. The Treasurer intends to brief the Cabinet very soon and the Treasurer intends to brief his State and Territory Treasury colleagues, that includes the Treasurer of the great State of Tasmania. Once that has happened the Treasurer has indicated to me that the report will be released.
QUESTION: Will you adopt its findings in full, its recommendations in full?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I have not myself even seen the report. I do not have the habit of adopting recommendations that I have not yet seen. I think that we now need to just follow proper process. We need to let the Treasurer brief the Cabinet. We need to let the Treasurer brief his State and Territory Treasury colleagues. The Government has indicated that we would consider the report carefully and provide a response in due course. The guarantee that we can give to Tasmania is that Tasmania will not get a cent less.
QUESTION: You have announced funding today for a multi-million dollar project. You tell us that the Prime Minister is going to be here tomorrow making more announcements. Is this pork barrelling a by-election?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Actually, I think that my friend and colleague Senator Martin will support me when I say that we have been talking about this project long before we knew that there would be a by-election. In fact, we have been planning for this announcement long before we knew that there was a by-election. This is just business as usual for us. We work with our colleagues on making the right decisions for Tasmania. We work with our Liberal Senate and Federal colleagues all the time to make sure we make the right decisions for Tasmania, which is why we are putting nearly a billion dollars in additional Federal infrastructure investment into Tasmania in this most recent Budget.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) The Productivity Commission Review, will you release it before the by-elections?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The date for the by-elections has not been set yet. I have just indicated to you that the Treasurer’s advice is that he intends to release the Productivity Commission Review next month. So you can draw your own conclusions. I mean it takes at least 33 days from the time of the issuing of the writs to the election proper, so we have not even got a date yet.
QUESTION: If Anne Ruston does not make the pre-selection will the Party intervene so that two senior women in the Party are not lost in a short space of time?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am very confident that Anne Ruston will win her pre-selection.
QUESTION: How confident are you that this pathway will go ahead? We have heard that we have not actually got the total funding for it.
MATHIAS CORMANN: This is a project that is developed sensibly in stages. We have been approached by the Cradle Coast authority for funding of $4.8 million for this next stage. That is the proposition that Senator Martin advocated with the Federal Government on behalf of the Cradle Coast Authority and the Federal Government has responded to that in full. We have provided 100 per cent of the funding that we were asked to provide as part of this three-party partnership between the local level, State Government and the Federal Government. We recognise that this is an important piece of tourism infrastructure in this beautiful part of the world. We can see the economic opportunities that flow from it and we want to see this project go ahead.
QUESTION: Steve, will you be calling on the State Government to step-up then and provide funding?
SENATOR MARTIN: Certainly will be, I think this is a wonderful project. It is on their radar, it is a matter now of, we have got the Federal funding, it certainly puts the pressure on the State Government to come on and join in and create 97 ongoing jobs on the coast and also encourage businesses to set-up along there and create a nice little cycle, pedestrian pathway that will increase opportunity for tourism.
QUESTION: What is the life of the project? When will it start and how long will it take?
SENATOR MARTIN: The project itself has already started and I would imagine once we have got the money in hand we will be starting to look at the four stages which is the Latrobe to Devonport, Don to Leith, Ulverstone to Penguin and Penguin to Sulphur Creek.. There are four legs that we have to find funding for. This is a great start and I am pretty confident, I am sure that the State Government would come on board because they have identified it as a project before and let us get into it.
QUESTION: This $47.5 million that you have managed to garner for this region, from the Federal Government, what is it going to be used for? Have there been any discussions on what this money is going to be used for?
SENATOR MARTIN: Well we are here today to announce $4.8 million which is a great project…interrupted
QUESTION: Is that of that $47.5 million?
SENATOR MARTIN: Yes and there will be further other announcements as the projects come to fruition.
QUESTION: Have you been in further talks with Qantas over the pilot school at Devonport?
SENATOR MARTIN: No I have not been in direct contact with Qantas. Certainly, I am aware of the statement of requirements that Qantas are wanting so that we can put in a submission. We are looking at putting a submission as a State and hopefully a good enough submission, which I believe we have, to actually secure the pilot academy for Tasmania.
QUESTION: Would you be pushing for Australia’s Space Agency to have a presence is Tasmania?
SENATOR MARTIN: Well that is an interesting one, that has just come out of the right field. I do not think Tassie has indicated at this stage that they want to be involved in that or has the capacity to be involved in that so I would have to do more research on that.
QUESTION: Mr. Cormann the Government is floating the idea of I.D. checks at airports, what is your view on that? Isn’t there a risk that racial profiling could happen?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am the Minister for Finance, I will stick to my area of portfolio responsibilities. These are matters that are appropriately addressed by the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton. The important point is, we face heightened risks in 2018 and we have got to always ensure that we have the right safeguards in place to protect our national security, to ensure Australians can be as safe and secure as possible. In terms of the specifics, I would leave that to Peter Dutton.
QUESTION: But you are a high-ranking member of the Government, surely you have a view either way?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I am not a commentator on other Minister’s portfolios.