10 AUGUST 2013


GEOFF LYONS:  It is always great to see the Prime Minister of Australia here in Tasmania and as the Hawks footballers just said it gives me great pleasure to introduce the comeback kid.

PRIME MINISTER:  Thanks, guys over there. It’s a while since I’ve been called a kid but I’ll take whatever positive encouragement I can, even if it is Kevin the comeback kid. Well done, guys, thank you for that and for the poetry.

It’s great to be here, of course, with Geoff Lyons who is the Member for Bass. A really strong, committed local who is involved in so many community organisations across this part of Tasmania that wherever I go people just know him as Geoff.

And also with our Senator for Tasmania, Helen Polly, good to see you, Helen. And Mr Mayor, Craig Perkins, the local mayor, and Daniel Smedley as well. Is he here too? There you go, mate, President of the Prospect Sports Club, over here.

I believe it’s really important to do whatever you can to support local communities. If you look at our country it’s made great on the basis of strong, functioning local communities. And every time I come to Lonny that’s what I find – strong, functioning local communities and it’s a great tribute to you all. And so much of local community development is based on local sporting clubs.

Here you have such an active sporting culture with the junior Hawks, the soccer players, the Touch Football Association and the others. It’s all part of building the fabric of our society, our community and teaching kids team sports and how to be active and healthy early in life.

So today here at the Prospect Vale sports complex in Launceston, regional headquarters for the northern Tasmanian touch football association, the home of the Launceston City Soccer Club, I’m told about 3,000 people regularly use this facility. Please nod. OK. Got that one right.

And I’m told it’s been closed for three weeks because of wet weather, is that right? I notice it’s pretty green flying in here from Hobart this morning. That’s why I’m pleased today to be here to say that the Government will be funding $375,000 towards the $1.1 million redevelopment of Prospect Park. That’s to make it better here.

And all that’s about making better playing fields for you guys, so that you don’t have a rained out fixtures and you can get on with the game. The new development will include additional playing fields and lighting. It will include importantly drainage and irrigation works. So in the future when it rains the whole place isn’t just shut down. It will include new all-weather surfaces allowing for extended training in winter and extra playing surfaces for summer sport as well. This is in response to the growing needs of the Meander Valley. It’s all about improving local quality of life.

This is part and parcel of what we’ve been doing more broadly across this part of Tasmania. Of course you will have noticed recently that we have announced our $100 million investment package in Tasmanian jobs and growth. We’ve got a number of projects here locally. One of which, of course, is the redevelopment of North Bank here in Lonny. When I was here last we announced $3 million towards that project and frankly that’s going to be such a signature development here in this beautiful city of Launceston.

Also an investment in the Scottsdale siding as well as the dry dock at Bridport. So we’re here with these local projects, promoting investment, doing investment, creating jobs and creating opportunities and that’s what Tasmania needs. Overall, that’s what we stand for. There’s been a couple of things which have been said recently which I should draw people’s attention to. Here in Tasmania people are focused on jobs and they’re focused on cost of living, like all Australians. Well, our practical projects support the further investment in jobs and what we’re doing in things like our investment in child care, ensuring that interest rates were as low as possible, personal income tax cuts that we’ve implemented over the last several years, are designed to keep cost of living pressures down on the family unit as much as possible.

But there’s one real big problem with this and it’s called the Goods and Services Tax. And it’s at two levels here in Tasmania. Number one is I notice in Mr Abbott’s plan he intends to review the Goods and Services Tax. He said that in black and white. He said it, John Howard even talked about it the other day. Mr Hockey has said it and Julie Bishop has said it. So it’s clearly Coalition policy. If you’re going to review the Goods and Services Tax it means 1, 2 or 3 different things. One, increase the rate. On food, number two, increase the scope of the tax by including food for the first time so the tax would go up to cover all products and a tax on food for the first time.

But thirdly, there’s a separate part to it as well which really affects people in Tasmania and that is under the existing distribution of the Goods and Services Tax collected nationally, because Tassie is a small State there is a further $600 million dollars which is invested here. What Mr Abbott is saying to people in Western Australia, is that that would all be changed which means that it would be $600 million dollars less allocated to Tasmania. Now that is a big hit on the local economy.

A Goods and Services Tax with a higher rate than 10% is a big hit on families. A Goods and Services Tax which would cover food for the first time is a very big hit on families. So I simply make that as my point of contrast here in Launceston, here in Tasmania today. That’s what they stand for. What we stand for is investing in jobs and keeping cost of living pressures down for families and most importantly investing in local community organisations and facilities and sporting clubs like this one here. So I’m delighted to be here with Geoff and the team and I don’t know whether the Mayor wants to say something or whether the bloke in charge of the sports club wants to say something. Tell us about what happens here.

CRAIG PERKINS: Thank you Prime Minister, and thank you for being here today, and thank you Geoff for being a supporter of this project. It’s pretty obvious today that there’s no activity on these grounds and it’s a Saturday when it should be full of people running around getting a little bit wet, but not too muddy and enjoying sport, participating.

Certainly as a council we’ve been committed to the ongoing redevelopment of this facility over a number of years, and continuing to do it for as long as it takes to get it right, so the contribution that you’re announcing today will be very much welcomed to accelerate some of the work on the ground. We’ve commenced the lighting redevelopment so we can extend the training use and the activity during the week and during the nights and the ground upgrades will be significant as well. So I’m really pleased about that.

The other one too I guess is we’ve had significant growth in the use of this facility over the time and the more we provide quality facilities, the more people want to use it. That’s one of the good things of providing recreational facilities because what it means is people in our community become healthy and active and a healthy and active community is a vibrant community, so that’s why we’re certainly committed to it. I thank you for coming down today and making the commitment and to Geoff for your support. The work that the sports club and Daniel does is really important as well. Thanks to all the parents and the kids for coming out and showing, I guess, how important it is to us, so thank you.

DANIEL SMEDLEY:  Just on behalf of the affiliated clubs and other users of the sports facility, we just want to thank Prime Minister Rudd and the member for Bass, Geoff Lyons for their support of the Prospect Park facilities here. It’s been crucial to have the facilities open and being developed over a number of years and we hope that we’ll continue to grow as this area grows; it can be a really important hub for the community providing sport and other social activities, keeping them very active. It’s great to see so many young people here and that’s just really a small number of the children that are using this facility and other young people as they develop and hopefully become lifelong participants in sport. Thank you Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER:  One other thing I meant to mention before, I understand that Mr Abbott was in Tassie yesterday or the day before and he announced that Tasmania should become a special economic zone. Then the day after he said: well not really because it wouldn’t involve a different tax rate here in Tasmania. Look, this is what I call policy made on the run. If you have a special economic zone, you know what it means? It means you have lower tax rates, that’s how a special economic zone operates right around the world. There’s a little problem in Australia, it’s called the Constitution. The Constitution says in section 99 that that is not possible for any of the states of Australia. So it’s very easy to come down here, and lift everyone’s hopes up and say we are going to turn Tassie into a special economic zone and crab walk away from it and say we didn’t actually mean that because we can’t do that. So what I would say is that Tasmania doesn’t need policy on the run, it doesn’t need a thought bubble, it doesn’t need Thought Bubble Tony Abbott 2.0. What it actually needs is real policies to create real jobs and to provide real relief for people’s cost of living pressures. That is what we stand for and that is what I believe people will support across the Australian community. Thanks very much.

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