Tasmanian services invited to share in $40m aged care boost

Tasmanian aged care services are being invited to share in $40 million now available to improve their operations, for the benefit of local seniors.

Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin said aged care providers could apply for one-off grants of up to $500,000 to undertake infrastructure extensions.

“Whether it’s improving accessibility, extending a kitchen or carrying out much-needed upgrades, I urge local operators to consider applying,” said Senator Martin.

“The new Aged Care Regional, Rural and Remote Infrastructure Grants scheme is an important part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to providing the best quality aged care for our treasured senior Australians.”

Funding will be provided via an open and competitive application process.

“Existing Government-approved residential and home care providers can apply,” Senator Martin said.

“Approved Commonwealth Home Support Program providers such as Meals On Wheels may also be eligible, where there is an exceptional need.”

Senator Martin said applications for the Aged Care Regional, Rural and Remote Infrastructure Grants will close at 2pm AEDT on 24 October 2018.

The application form, guidelines and FAQ can be access via GrantConnect: www.grants.gov.au 

World class bike trails a step closer in Tasmania's North West

Work has begun on 45 kilometres of world-class mountain bike trails in north-west Tasmania as part of a plan to promote the state as a first-rate adventure holiday destination.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the $1.6 million second stage of the Wild Mersey Mountain Bike Trails project, together with Stage 1, will increase the length of the trail to 70 kilometres and provide new trail head facilities at Warrawee.

“When completed, the Wild Mersey Mountain Bike Trails project will see more than 100 kilometres of new, International Mountain Biking Association-standard mountain bike trails laid in some of north-west Tasmania’s most spectacular country – an outcome which will provide major short- and long-term economic benefits to the region and the state,” Mr McCormack said.

“Stage 2, for example, is expected to support eight jobs during construction and more than 50 ongoing jobs. In connecting Latrobe, Railton, Sheffield and Devonport, the completed trails will deliver a raft of opportunities for tourism operators to attract more and a wider variety of visitors to the area, ranging from young families to extreme-sports enthusiasts.”

Senator for Tasmania Richard Colbeck said the project is expected to become a top attraction for the world’s best biking athletes.

“It’s likely to become one of Australia’s leading mountain bike attractions, hosting annual mountain bike events, including national championships which will benefit the local economy and market the north-west as a wilderness-based adventure destination,” Senator Colbeck said.

“Mountain bike industry experts believe Tasmania needs about four mountain bike facilities to be classed as a mountain bike destination, and the Wild Mersey trails provide a third major facility (after Blue Derby and Mount Wellington) that will generate more tourism activity in the region.”

Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin said the project will help to develop a local adventure tourism industry and generate new opportunities for local small businesses in the Kentish and Latrobe municipalities. 

“When all three stages are completed, the trail will include Green Standard trails for beginners, Blue Standard trails for recreational mountain bikers, and Black Standard extreme trails that will cater to national and international mountain bikers and elite riders,” Senator Martin said.

Tasmanian Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure Jeremy Rockliff said the Mersey region has outstanding potential as a mountain biking destination, especially if marketed with the Blue Derby trails in Tasmania’s north-east. 

“The variety of trails have been designed to cater to both mountain bike enthusiasts and families looking to experience the Tasmanian wilderness and the wonderful views,” Mr Rockliff said. 

“Even better, it will boost jobs and tourism for the State’s north west while further enhancing Tasmania’s reputation as an exciting cycle tourism destination.” 

The Wild Mersey Mountain Bike Trails project stretches across the Kentish and Latrobe Council areas. 

Kentish Council Mayor Don Thwaites said it’s pleasing to see construction beginning on Stage 2 after a thorough period of planning. 

“The idea for a mountain bike trail network began around four years ago when we were looking to build on the rising profile of Tasmania as a wilderness and adventure-holiday destination,” Cr Thwaites said. 

Latrobe Council Mayor Peter Freshney said the trail network has the potential to showcase the natural beauty of north-west Tasmania and provide multi-day tourism experiences for riders. 

“The trails are designed to be a mix of cross-country, downhill and gravity enduro tracks that make the most of the varied bushland, hills and river flats that are features of this area and complement other mountain biking experiences in Tasmania,” Cr Freshney said. 

This project is jointly funded with the Liberal and Nationals’ Government investing $800,000, the Tasmanian Government $600,000, Kentish Council $100,000 and Latrobe Council $100,000.

Backing local small businesses to invest

Tasmanian small businesses are set to benefit from additional opportunities to invest in their business and replace or upgrade their assets, with legislation to extend the $20,000 instant asset write-off passing the Parliament.

The legislation delivers on the Coalition Government’s 2018-19 Budget announcement to extend the $20,000 write-off for a further 12 months to 30 June 2019.

Across Australia, there are more than three million small businesses with an annual turnover of less than $10 million that are eligible to access the write-off.

“Whether you’re a gardener purchasing a ride-on lawn mower, a café owner purchasing an industrial dishwasher or a courier purchasing a vehicle, I encourage all Tasmanian small businesses to take advantage of the $20,000 instant asset write-off – if they’re not already,” Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin said.

 “By growing the ability of Tasmanian small businesses to invest, we grow their ability to employ more locals.”

In the 2015-16 Budget, the Coalition Government increased the immediate deductibility threshold from $1,000 to $20,000.

Backing small business – the engine room of our economy – is part of the Coalition Government’s plan for a stronger economy and more jobs.

Biggest Northern Road Project in decades gets underway

Work has now commenced on the largest single project in the 10-year $500 million Midland Highway Action Plan, which will provide a massive economic boost to Northern Tasmania.

The $92.3 million Perth Link Roads project will complete a dual carriageway along the Midland Highway from Launceston to the south of Perth, Tasmania.

Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals’ Leader and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the project would increase safety, reduce traffic noise and ease congestion in the area.

“Around Australia the Liberal and Nationals’ Government is investing in upgrading roads to ensure people can get home sooner and safer, and boost productivity,” Mr McCormack said.

“This project will improve safety and reduce traffic noise and congestion by diverting heavy vehicles and traffic from the Perth town centre.”

Tasmanian Deputy Premier and Minister for Infrastructure Jeremy Rockliff said the Perth Link Roads project was another important step in improving safety along the length of the Highway to a minimum 3-star AusRAP safety rating.

“This enormous project will deliver real safety and efficiency benefits for commuters, as well as taking heavy freight trucks out of the centre of the Perth township,” Mr Rockliff said.

“It will also result in millions being injected back into the economy with numerous flow-on benefits for local businesses, while supporting an estimated 166 direct and 25 indirect jobs during construction.

“It’s a great example of the State and Federal Government working together to improve the lives of Tasmanians.”

Liberal Senator for Tasmania David Bushby said detailed design was underway and early works had started onsite.

“The community will love this project because it will deliver safety and amenity benefits for the community, including landscaping at the entrance to Perth, that will encourage tourism and a dedicated shared path that will improve pedestrian and cyclist connections between Longford and Breadalbane,” Senator Bushby said.

The Nationals’ Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin said the project was the largest project of the $500 million Midland Highway Upgrade jointly funded by the Australian and Tasmanian governments – a program that had already delivered 13 projects.

“Construction on a number of other projects is progressing, including York Plains to St Peters Pass, Mangalore to Bagdad Stage 2 (Mangalore), Epping Forest to Powranna and St Peters Pass to south of Tunbridge,” Senator Martin said.

Construction of the Perth Link Roads is expected to start in late 2018 and be completed by mid-2021.

The Australian Government has committed $83.1 million to the project, with the Tasmanian Government committing the remaining $9.2 million.

In good news for local jobs, Tasmanian joint venture VEC-Shaw will deliver the project.

For more information visit www.midlandhighway.tas.gov.au

Investing in healthy export potential for Tassie veggie growers

·         The Tasmanian Fruit & Vegetable Export Facilitation Group will receive up to $320,000 over four years to support Tasmanian horticulture growers.

·         The new projects include research to help export asparagus and lettuce into China.

·         The Coalition Government has invested more than $15 million Package Assisting Small Exporters (PASE) program since 2014.

Thanks to strong advocacy and support from Nationals Senator Steve Martin veggie growers and horticulturalists across Tassie will have better access to new markets and a better share of existing markets thanks to a healthy funding boost of up to $320,000.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said Tasmania’s asparagus and lettuce growers will be able to look at new way in to the Chinese market with nearly $50,000 through the through the Coalition Government’s Package Assisting Small Exporters (PASE) program.

“This program is enabling us to get market information into the hands of small exporters to help them break into new markets and get a better price for their produce,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We are funding up to $118,650 to research the benefits of smart technologies such as freeze drying to help meet export country biosecurity requirements and get a foot in the door to new markets.

“We are also encouraging research into the demand for pre-packaged products, including how fruit and veg growers can access valued-added technologies.”

Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin welcomed the support for Tasmania’s hard working horticulturalists.

“The Tassie horticultural industry is a big contributor to the economy and we want to help that industry grow to create more wealth and jobs for regional communities,” Senator Martin said.

“Research into pathways to the Chinese market for our lettuce and asparagus growers really will help our small exporters to make the most of opportunities before them.

“By giving smaller exporters the tools through market research and value adding they will be able to take advantage of the government’s free trade agreements.”

For more information on PASE, visit www.agriculture.gov.au/export/from-australia/package-assisting-small-exporters

Fast Facts:

·         The Package Assisting Small Exporters (PASE) is a more than $15 million program for small exporters.

·         Over 55 projects were funded through the Package Assisting Small Exporters (PASE) from 2015 to 2018 including initiatives to assist grape growers, dairy businesses and the NSW cherry industry.

Growing productivity in our forest industries

Tasmania’s forest industries stand to harvest the benefits of the Australian Government’s $20 million investment in the future of the sector.

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud and Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin said the growth potential for forestry here in Tasmania—and across the nation—remained enormous.

“We understand Australia needs another 400,000 hectares of plantation to produce enough to cater for demand,” Minister Littleproud said.

“That’s why we are investing $20 million to boost regional forestry job opportunities and grow Australia’s renewable timber and wood-fibre industry.

This funding will be invested into:

·         Growing farm forestry in Australia

·         Research and Development to try to get more out of the wood we use and to create modern products

·         Developing at least three regional hubs, where the land and infrastructure such as roads and ports lends itself to forestry.

“Further to this, we’ll soon release our Forest Industry Plan, supporting growth in a key sustainable, long-term growth engine for regional Australia.

“We will improve existing forest resources on privately and Indigenous owned and managed land.

“We will drive the innovation, research and development of new products in the forestry industry.”

Senator Martin said the national forestry sector directly employed more than 70,000 people.

“We want to ensure our forestry industry remains competitive and can adapt to evolving market preferences,” Senator Martin said.

“Through this plan the Coalition Government is setting out the infrastructure needed to grow the forestry industry in at least three regional forestry hubs across the country and identifying potential forest resources close to processors and ports.

“These assessments will assist policy development for plantations expansion opportunities, infrastructure needs, and additional processing potential and future employment opportunities.”

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Richard Colbeck welcomed the announcement.

“Confidence in the forest industry has returned and so have the jobs, the investments and the exports,” Mr Colbeck said.

“Tasmania’s foresters have shown unequivocally how dynamic they can be without the drag of twin Labor/Green Governments.”

The National Forestry Industry Plan builds upon the work undertaken by the Forest Industry Advisory Council and will be launched later this year.

Fast facts:

·         $20 million to implement the soon-to-be-released National Forestry Industry Plan and drive growth in renewable timber and wood fibre industries.

·         The sales and service income of Australia’s forest product industries amounted to $23.7 billion in 2015-16.  

·         With a total log harvest of over 33 million cubic metres in 2016-17, worth $2.6 billion, the forestry sector makes a large contribution to both the Australian economy and many regional and rural economies.

Heavy vehicle productivity and safety rolls in Tasmania

Heavy vehicle routes in Tasmania will soon be more efficient, more reliable and safer thanks to an upgrade of the Esk Highway being funded under Round 6 of the Liberal and Nationals’ Government’s Heavy Vehicle Safety and Productivity Program, Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin says.

“Getting product from paddock to plate is a vital part of Australia’s growing agriculture and transport industries, which is why the Liberal and Nationals’ Government is investing in making those freight routes safer,” Senator Martin said. “We all understand how important it is to upgrade these roads – we all drive them often and see firsthand the jobs and opportunities agriculture and transport brings to Tasmania.

“I have been fighting for better roads and this is fantastic news for truckies travelling through our region, with Tasmania receiving $3.59 million of Federal Government funding for the $7.18 million project under Round Six of the program. It will see the sealing of shoulders along two sections totalling 8.95km along the Esk Highway near Fingal, and it will improve safety for heavy vehicles by providing a greater clearance between vehicles.”

Deputy Prime Minister, Nationals’ Leader and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the program provides funding to local councils and State and Territory Governments to help fund works designed to improve the safety and efficiency of important heavy vehicle routes.

“Around Australia we are investing in helping people get home sooner and safer, no matter where they live,” Mr McCormack said. “That’s why we are continuing to deliver road funding where it’s needed, based mainly on the local knowledge, especially to councils which make up more than 60 per cent of the 93 projects selected under this latest round of funding.”

A list of successful Round Six projects, is available at: http://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/infrastructure_investment/heavy_vehicle_safety_and_productivity.aspx

Timberlink’s multi-million dollar investment shows confidence in Tasmanian manufacturing sector

Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin has applauded Timberlink’s announcement of $100 million of investment for its Australian sawmills with the Bell Bay site being part of the planned improvements.

Timberlink’s plans include installing new planer mill equipment along with a state-of-the-art contraflow kiln, and site infrastructure improvements with a new internal road system to enhance safety at its Bell Bay site.

“Timberlink must be congratulated for the $100 million of investment for its Australian sawmills, especially at its Bell Bay mill,” Senator Martin said.

“Timberlink’s investment is a win for regional Tasmania and Tasmanians with the company stating that its $100 million of investment will secure more than 1,350 direct and indirect jobs in regional Australia and increase capacity by more than 15 per cent.”

The company’s chairman and CEO of investment management firm New Forests, David Brand, expressed his support for the mill upgrade program when making the announcement today.

“This is a substantial re-investment in the Timberlink mill facilities and continues to demonstrate the strong recovery of the Australian forestry sector under institutional investor ownership,” he said.

“Timberlink has become a leading wood products business, and I expect it will continue to innovate and grow, creating new manufacturing jobs in regional areas, while increasing the supply of timber in Australia.”

Timberlink said 87 per cent of its workforce lived in regional areas.


Minister’s visit a prime time to showcase Tasmania

Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin is looking forward to showcasing the quality work of Tasmanian producers to the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon David Littleproud MP, when he visits the State next week.

The two Nationals will make joint announcements during the visit to the North of the State on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“Minister Littleproud’s visit to Tasmania will be an exciting time for the State and I’m looking forward to him meeting the hardworking farmers, saw millers, brewers, distillers and small business owners across our regional cities and communities,” Senator Martin said.

“Tasmanian producers are helping to put Tassie back on the map in regards to the State being a more productive powerhouse of quality goods and services exported to the rest of the world.

“This will be the Minister’s first official visit to Tasmania and it is so encouraging that he has accepted my invitation to inspect firsthand the agricultural, aquaculture, forestry, and wine making, brewing and distilling might of the State.

“Minister Littleproud is fully aware that better and stronger regions are built through sustainably tapping into the natural resources of an area with the flow-on effects being more jobs and a stronger local economy.”

Senator Martin said more details about the announcements and visits will be released early next week.

Faithful pay for Church’s sins - Comment Piece

They say you should never discuss religion and politics in polite conversation, but the proposed sale of more than 50 Anglican Churches in Tasmania has forced my hand with it surely to become a national issue.

It’s also why I have started a Save Our Churches webpage requesting people pledge their support to stop the Anglican Church from the mass selloff of community churches. The Save Our Churches webpage can be found at www.saveourchurches.com.au

The sale, to help fund the National Redress Scheme following the Child Abuse Royal Commission, would provide money to victims of horrific crimes. But the sale will short change the work, dedication and faith of generations of parishioners.

The passing-around of the collection plate on a Sunday was the first memory that sprang to mind when the Anglican Church made its announcement. Heads bowed, some would place banknotes, while others (like my family) could only afford a few coins. Others still would place sealed, white envelopes, their contents known only to the giver and God.

It’s amazing what young minds grasp on to from their early days of attending church with their parents. One of the things I learned was money can’t buy your way into Heaven. It can’t buy you friends. Money can’t build communities. It’s people who do that.

But it seems the Anglican Church’s decision to sell churches is all about money and not about the people who helped build them. Like the white, sealed envelopes passed into the collection plate, the decisions of the Church appear to be shrouded in secrecy.

The message it’s putting money before people even comes up in its own correspondence when it states: “we strive to be good corporate citizens”. Surely the Church’s first responsibility is to God and His people, not money.

There is no doubt that the trial being undertaken in Tasmania will spread to the Mainland. There is also no doubt that the Anglican Church has not consulted as far and wide as it should have regarding the sale of what are effectively churches owned by the people – the congregations – in hundreds of communities around Australia.

It is those people and their predecessors, the families both literal and spiritual, that are the ones who paid for the churches with their tithes and offerings at Sunday services.

They are the ones that volunteered their time and energy to keep the churches and their surrounds in good order.

They are the ones – through blood, sweat and tears – who have built the churches and communities.

They are the ones who have ancestors – some of them soldiers or community leaders – buried in the grounds of those churches.

They are the ones – over numerous generations – whom the church owes a debt of gratitude.

That is why I wrote to the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania requesting more details about the planned sales. That is why I’m backing the grassroots Save the Churches campaign.

That is why I have also sent a letter to the Tasmanian Branch of the RSL, as well as all RSL Clubs in Tasmania, outlining my concerns and those of numerous constituents about how any sell-off would impact on graves honouring our soldiers.

Sure, the churches are steeped in history and a lot of them are beautiful buildings in their own right. But they are far more than bricks and mortar and stained-glass windows. 

The Anglican Church owes it to the generations of worshippers who have celebrated marriages and births, and buried family and friends in the grounds to keep churches in community hands.

It has been encouraging the Right Reverend Dr Richard Condie replied to my letter giving more context.

It has also been encouraging that the Anglican Diocese of Tasmania and Bishop Condie have extended the consultation period with a cut-off date of 1 October.

But I’m not encouraged by the language used in their correspondence when the Church states that the extension was granted “to allow more time for community groups to consider their options … and the Diocesan Council will make its final decision about property sales in December”.

The tone would suggest the Church has already made up its mind.

The avalanche of media reports and community concerns highlights that the Anglican Church has not consulted effectively with its communities.

The way the Anglican Church has handled the sell-off reminds me of a verse from the Book of Proverbs: “To answer before listening – that is folly and shame.”

Its reminder that the Church (and many politicians) should take on board, especially as it stands astride the sacred and the secular.

Let’s hope and pray the Anglican Church chooses to listen before making any rash decisions.  It would be a disgrace if these communities are the ones that face the punishment due to others.

After all, it is the sins of a few within the Church’s ranks who have brought us to this point.

The Anglican Church needs to contribute towards the National Redress Scheme, but that price should not be paid by the faithful.