Malcolm Turnbull’s 2017 Federal Budget was a massive disappointment for the people of Bass and a healthy Tamar River.
The $2 million in funding announced within the Budget as part of the $7.5 million City Deal for a feasibility study into the river is a stalling tactic from a Government that is unwilling to make serious investment in sewerage infrastructure.
“The Tamar River is so important to the City of Launceston. Years ago, it was sand not silt on the banks of this river. Unfortunately the people of Launceston have been forced to put up with continued inaction by this Coalition Government when the Tamar River is screaming out for investment in sewerage infrastructure so we don’t see raw sewage in the river contributing to the silt problem,” Senator Dastyari said.
At the last Federal Election a Shorten Labor Government committed $75 million to upgrade Launceston’s water infrastructure and aid in the clean-up of the Tamar River once and for all with the Tamar River Sewerage Improvement Plan.
Labor’s $75 million was set to deliver a cleaner, safer Tamar River with a modern standard tertiary-treatment plant to service the whole of Launceston.
“At the last election Labor aimed to do something which no Coalition or State Liberal Government has been willing to do- put an end to the release of raw sewerage into the upper Tamar Estuary, which is contributing to unsafe and unsanitary water quality and increased silt,” Senator Polley said.
Over the next ten years TasWater needs to invest $1.8 billion to upgrade Tasmania’s water infrastructure to meet modern day standards.
Local government owners of TasWater agreed to contribute $400 million over ten years to this investment program if the State and Federal Governments came to the table.
“Since the last Federal Election the Turnbull Government has buried its head in the sand over this issue. They are willing to keep kicking the can down the road which only means the problem is getting worse and seemingly bigger,” Mr Hart said.
The last thing the Tamar River needs is another feasibility study to reiterate what the problem is and what sewerage infrastructure investment is required to fix the problem.
“The Tamar River is the lifeblood of this community. It is fundamental to tourism and small business operators. How are we supposed to attract people to the city of Launceston when we have a Tamar River that is in the state that it is currently in,” Mr Hart said.
Labor has always argued improving Tasmania's water and sewerage infrastructure is a combined responsibility of local, state and federal government.
“The Federal and State Liberal Government’s failure to act is putting our environment, our local economy and the safety of the community at risk,” Senator Polley said.
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