First Qantas Group Pilot Academy announced

Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin has expressed his disappointment at Toowoomba being announced as the home for the first Qantas Group Pilot Academy, however he says Tasmania is still in with a chance for the second school.

“While it is disappointing we’ve missed out on the first school, we’re still very much in the running for the second site which is due to be announced later this year,” Senator Martin said.

“Toowoomba obviously put in an exceptional bid, and I congratulate them on their efforts.  Tasmania has also put in a strong and compliant bid for the Qantas Group Pilot Academy with Qantas identifying Launceston as a preferred option,” he said.

“The securing of the second site would be a huge win for the State. It would lift our profile on the international stage as a provider of world’s best training facilities.”

Applications open for $200 million regional funding round

Tasmanian communities are invited to apply for a share in $200 million under Round 3 of the Australian Government’s Building Better Regions Fund.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the projects delivered under Round 3 will ensure regional and remote communities continue to thrive.

“We have had fantastic outcomes over the first two funding rounds of the Coalition Government’s Building Better Regions Fund and I expect Round 3 to deliver more of the same with up to $45 million earmarked to increase tourism,” Mr McCormack said.

“Tourism is a major industry in many of our regional areas, and this investment in tourism-related infrastructure projects will draw more visitors to remote and regional Australia and the economic benefits they bring with them.

“In this third round we are investing a further $200 million – a clear indication of the Government’s commitment to investing in projects that create jobs, build regional economies and ensure strong and resilient regional communities into the future.”

Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin is urging communities around the State to take advantage of the fund and get local infrastructure and community-building projects of all sizes off the ground. 

“This fund is dedicated to unlocking the economic potential in remote and regional Australia and I encourage all eligible organisations with a great project idea to apply for the third round of funding,” Senator Martin said.

Applications are now open and close on 15 November 2018.

Further information on eligibility and how to apply is available at www.infrastructure.gov.au/bbrf

Safety improvements for Launceston Hospital

The Launceston General Hospital is now a much safer place for locals, patients and visitors following a series of new pedestrian and road safety upgrades.  

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the safety improvements are a great outcome for Launceston, encouraging more people to visit the busy area.

“The project will help ensure locals, tourists and visitors can easily access this part of the city, with the upgrade including a dedicated pedestrian crossing point, improved footpaths, road resurfacing and new line marking,” Mr McCormack said.

Senator for Tasmania David Bushby, who joined the local community for the opening, said the project identified the area as a ‘hospital zone’ and includes a number of initiatives designed to slow down traffic.

“The design is aimed at making motorists more aware of pedestrians, and particularly those with mobility impairment, which is absolutely essential for ensuring patients and visitors can access the hospital more safely,” Mr Bushby said.

Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin, who joined Senator Bushby today, said this section of road carries up to 10,000 vehicles each day.

“These upgrades will improve pedestrian safety and also provide better access for cyclists, with continuous bike lines now on both sides of the street,” Senator Martin said.

Mayor of City of Launceston Albert Van Zetten said the city is grateful for the support of the Liberal and Nationals’ Government toward this important pedestrian safety project.

“There’s a high volume of pedestrians in the area around the Launceston General Hospital, but until recently there was no dedicated crossing point for people on foot, and we believe these improvements will make the area around Launceston General Hospital safer for all road users,”
Cr Van Zetten said.

The $500,000 Launceston General Hospital Pedestrian safety improvement project was jointly funded with the Australian Government investing $230,000 and the Launceston City Council $270,000.

More choice for Tasmanian parents

Nationals Senator for Tasmania Steve Martin said the Federal Government had guaranteed choice in education for local parents through its agreement with the Catholic and Independent school sectors.

Senator Martin said there were nearly 40 Catholic and Independent schools in Tasmania.

“We have wonderful schools in Tasmania and the Government has now guaranteed that parents will continue to have a choice about where to send their kids to school,” Senator Martin said.

“Our Government is providing increased funding to our schools to ensure better results for our students. In fact, our Government is providing record funding for education – record funding for child care, record funding for schools, record funding for higher education.

“Our record funding will be matched by a focus on results. We want to ensure that every student in Tasmania gets the best possible education to realise their potential.”

Senator Martin said the Government would transition to a fairer model for determining how non-government schools were funded as part of its response to the National School Resourcing Board’s Review of the socio-economic status (SES) score methodology.

“From 2020, we will use a new direct income measure to determine the capacity of a school community to contribute to their operating costs,” he said.

“To support schools during the transition, the Commonwealth Government will also provide $1.2 billion over the next ten years to guarantee choice in education in Tasmania.

“Ensuring we have low fee Catholic and Independent schools providing choice across the nation is a key government priority. This means that schools that need the most support will get the most support.”

The Government is providing record funding over 10 years to all Australian schools with $113.6 billion to State schools, $88.9 billion to Catholic schools and $68.5 billion to Independent schools.

Tasmanians urged to contribute to aged care Royal Commission Terms of Reference

Tasmanians can have their say on the Terms of Reference for the Royal Commission into the aged care sector through an online feedback tool.

This Royal Commission will primarily look at the quality of care provided in Residential and Home Aged Care for senior Australians, but also include young people with disabilities living in Residential Aged Care settings.

“As the Prime Minister has said, there are thousands of operators, facilities, care providers, nursing and other clinical staff, volunteers, cleaners, cooks and therapists here in Tasmania and across the nation who are out there improving the lives of senior Australians every day.  This is something we should all be proud of,” said Senator Martin.  

“However, following intensified policing and inspections of the aged sector over the past year, information has come to light through the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner, the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency and the Department of Health that makes the case for a Royal Commission into the sector compelling.”

The final terms of reference will be determined in consultation with the community, including residents and their families and aged care providers.  However, it is expected the inquiry will cover:

  • The quality of care provided to older Australians, and the extent of substandard care;

  • The challenge of providing care to Australians with disabilities living in residential aged care, particularly younger people with disabilities;

  • The challenge of supporting the increasing number of Australians suffering dementia and addressing their care needs as they age;

  • The future challenges and opportunities for delivering aged care services in the context of changing demographics, including in remote, rural and regional Australia;

  • Any other matters that the Royal Commission considers necessary.

Senator Martin said local residents could have their say on the terms of reference via the Commonwealth Department of Health’s website at consultations.health.gov.au/  or they are welcome to write to Minister Hunt or Minister Wyatt.

Consultation relating to the Terms of Reference will be open until 25 September.

We expect that all residents will be able to be engaged as the Royal Commission commences.

“Our Government’s commitment to safe, quality, compassionate, flexible and affordable aged care services for our senior Australians is absolute.

“Aged care funding has grown by $1 billion a year since we were elected in 2013 and is at record levels. In 2017-18, alone, aged care spending is estimated to reach $18.6 billion. Over the next five years funding will grow by $5 billion to $23.6 billion a year.”

Senator Martin said the Department of Health had closed almost one aged care service per month since Oakden, with an increasing number under sanction to improve their care.

“Incidents of older people being hurt by failures of care simply cannot be explained or excused. We must be assured about how widespread these cases are,” Senator Martin said.

“As a community we expect high standards for the quality and safety of aged care services and we share these expectations.

“This Royal Commission will be about proactively determining what we need to do in the future to ensure these expectations can be met.

“Evidence to date shows that the problems are not restricted to any one part of the aged care sector, whether it is for profit or not for profit, large or small facilities, regional or major metropolitan. The Royal Commission will look at the sector as a whole, without bias or prejudice. It will make findings on the evidence. “

If you or a family member have immediate concerns, please contact the Aged Care Complaints Commissioner on 1800 550 552 or you can lodge a complaint with the Commissioner online. Complaints can be made completely anonymously.

 

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.