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Midland Highway and Highland Lakes Road intersection

As Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, I have requested an urgent briefing from my Department into the safety and adequacy of the intersection of the Midland Highway and Highland Lakes Road.

Yesterday’s tragic crash, which has resulted in a death and a serious injury, is rightly a concern to the Tasmanian community and we owe it to road users to closely review the design and speed limits at this intersection.

I have tasked my Department with an immediate review of the design features of the intersection, including signage. This review will consult with the Southern Midlands and Central Highlands Councils.

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Perth Links roads project progress

As the new Minister for Infrastructure, I am enormously proud to have responsibility for our record investment into our job creating infrastructure in Tasmania.

Our investment is all about maintaining the momentum in the Tasmanian economy and investing for future growth, with this year’s budget alone providing more than $323 million in new road projects, upgrades and maintenance across the state in 2019-20 alone.

In fact, this year’s budget supports the creation of 10,000 jobs, with infrastructure projects representing a considerable opportunity for economic and jobs growth for Tasmania.

The transformation of our key North-South corridor through our $500 million Midland Highway 10 Year Action Planis being delivered througha funding partnership between the Morrison Liberal Government and the Hodgman Liberal Government.

Since launching in 2015, the Action Plan has delivered twelve upgrade projects along the Highway. Four others are currently underway including the $92.3 million Perth Links Roads project, which when complete will deliver a bypass around Perth and a four lane connection between south of Perth and Launceston.

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Smart infrastructure eliminates penguin road deaths

Just a day after being sworn in as the new Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, I’ve been meeting the community, working on our initiatives and I called in to inspect the Hodgman Liberal Government’s work at The Neck.

New underground penguin crossings and roadside fencing, delivered as part of the recent upgrade of Bruny Island Main Road at The Neck, are saving penguins lives.

Dedicated penguin crossings and fencing were installed in 2017 as part of upgrades at the Neck. Since works finished in 2017 there have been no recorded cases of penguin roadkill at the site.

Protecting the penguins was a key priority of the upgrades, delivered jointly by the Department of State Growth and Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service, in close collaboration with BirdLife Tasmania. We know it’s also important to the residents and visitors who love these wonderful creatures and appreciate their unique home on the Island.

Improvements at the Neck included, upgrading and sealing the final 2.5 km of Bruny Island Main Road, the creation of a dedicated wildlife zone with warning signage, a lower speed limit and installation of the under-road culverts and mesh fencing, and construction of a larger car park with safer entry and exit points.

Upgrades to the lookout, walkway and toilet were delivered by the Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service.

BirdLife Tasmania provided specialist advice on the design of the penguin culverts and have monitored the penguins’ movements over the last two breeding seasons.

This research showed penguins adapted quickly to using the culverts, starting to use the culverts to cross from the D’Entrecasteaux Channel to their colony at the Neck within 10 days of installation.

This project is the first in Tasmania to have quantitative data on the usage of under-road culverts by penguins. The success of this project will help inform future road construction projects.

New portfolios

Today at Government House I was sworn in as Minister for my new portfolios, having accepted the Premier’s request to take on new challenges in the major economic portfolios of State Growth and Infrastructure, in addition to Small Business and my previous portfolio of Science and Technology.

State Growth and Infrastructure are two vital areas for the Hodgman Liberal Government and I am honoured to continue to implement our strong agenda to create and sustain jobs, grow the economy and build essential infrastructure for our state.

When the Premier asked me to take on the health portfolio five years ago, I agreed and promised to work with integrity and to give my best. We’ve achieve a huge amount – we’ve reversed Labor’s savage health cuts, employed more staff, opened all available wards, built more buildings and created much safer services. We’ve also seen demand become a big challenge that together we have worked to tackle head on. We know there is more to be done, and the Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to delivering.

None of these achievements – which are significant and for which I thank our health staff – has ever stopped our political opponents from their shameless blame games and nasty political stunts designed to draw attention from the fact that they have zero policies.

At the 2018 election, the Premier and I agreed that we would find a suitable point during this term for me to pursue new challenges, but that I would continue until then and build our expanded services. This time has come, with the Cabinet reshuffle due to the ill health of my friend and colleague Jacquie Petrusma.

It’s time for fresh eyes and new leadership to take us forward in health and mental health, and I wish Sarah Courtney and Jeremy Rockliff every success with my full support. The combination of their commitment and the professionalism of our health workforce will serve the Tasmanian community well.

In my record five years as Minister for Health, I am grateful to be able to list just a few of our key achievements which we worked hard for:

–              Rescued the Royal Hobart Hospital Redevelopment, from a project that had failed for years without a brick being laid, to nearing completion in coming months.

–              Saved the Mersey Community Hospital and set it up as an elective surgery centre, with the progressive addition of new services such as a Rehabilitation Ward.

–              Fully funded and staffed the North West Cancer Centre and worked with the Morrison Government to secure a second linear accelerator which will increase the capacity to provide cancer care locally on the North West Coast. 

–              Delivered a single state-wide health system, and put in place clear leadership in our hospitals, which we are now leveraging to improve care.

–              Started new services which are saving lives – including Tasmania’s first ever Integrated Aeromedical Helicopter Service, and safer integrated birthing services on the North West Coast.

–              Opened more than 130 additional beds around the State, as well as important community care programs like Rapid Response, with more than 1000 additional staff in our health system compared to when we took over Government.

–              Re-opened Ward 4D at the Launceston General Hospital and added more than 400 additional full-time staff over five years.

–              Delivered more specialist care for Launceston, with the successful recruitment of neurologists, endocrinologists, emergency physicians and many other specialists.

–              Led the nation in protecting Tasmanians with a strong immunisation program (including our meningococcal ACWY vaccination program), which saw record child immunisation rates in Tasmania, and bringing pharmacist vaccinations to Tasmania for the first time ever.

We have set the foundation for major improvements which I have no doubt will serve the Tasmanian community well long into the future.

I have truly enjoyed serving as the Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management through what can only be described as a solid period of growth, positive reforms and stronger community support and engagement.

I have delivered our election policies in the war on ice in getting our strong anti-outlaw bikie gang measures through Parliament, rebuilding our police numbers and providing our frontline police officers with latest technology in body worn cameras.

It was also incredible to be part of the professional response by our combined emergency services to the ferocious bushfires which threatened Tasmanian communities last summer. This time gave me an invaluable insight into the absolute commitment to the task at hand – no matter how big or small. I am so grateful that no lives were lost.

I’d like to express my gratitude to everyone I worked with in the portfolios of Health, and Police, Fire and Emergency Management.

I look forward to continuing the good work of the Hodgman Liberal Government in my new portfolios designed to improve our economy and grow jobs for Tasmanians. And I will absolutely continue my dedicated service to Bass and the wonderful people of Tasmania with integrity and my solid work ethic.

Powering up energy entrepreneurs

In an Australian, and possibly world first, Launceston is set to become home to a combined Energy-Internet of Things (IoT) hardware start-up accelerator led by EnergyLab, partnering with a local tech firm.

The Hodgman Liberal Government is a strong supporter of the ICT sector in Tasmania, which is why we’re investing $900,000 to help turn the concepts of Tasmania’s best and brightest into viable, real-world products and services which supplements our commitment to Tasmania’s burgeoning start-up community via the Enterprize Hubs in Launceston and Hobart.

The EnergyLab Energy-IoT Accelerator will receive $150,000 of this funding to support local tech start-ups to develop their ideas, guide them over the hurdles of creating innovative products, and take their concepts to market. The program will reach, support and inspire local entrepreneurs, innovators and founders to develop and innovate within the clean energy sector.

It will also capitalise on EnergyLab’s international energy and business networks to attract global talent, partner and collaborate with local entrepreneurs, and provide mentoring to help new Tasmanian businesses establish themselves in this rapidly growing marketplace.

Clean energy startups are particularly challenging enterprises that have to tackle everything from business planning, hardware development and design, manufacturing, regulation, incumbent players, and the time it takes to overcome these issues.

The Energy-IoT Hardware Acceleration Program will provide solutions to these challenges and help put Launceston on the map as a location for innovation and entrepreneurial development in clean energy. Further unlocking Tasmania’s potential as the renewable energy Battery of the Nation.

EnergyLab, an established Australian-based startup accelerator, was selected to establish and operate the new Tasmanian start-up accelerator through a competitive expression of interest process run by the Office of the Coordinator-General.

It is anticipated that additional partners will also join the Tasmanian Government’s Start-up Accelerator program in the near future.

EnergyLab is supported by Climate KIC Australia, UTS Sydney, Freshwater Group, Yurika Pty Ltd and KPMG.

Recognising Tasmania’s ICT excellence

The best and brightest minds from across Tasmania’s information and communication technology sector have been celebrated at the 2019 TasICT Awards.

The iAwards and TasICT Awards for ICT Excellence honour organisations, individuals and students at the cutting edge of technology, and recognise the achievements of our home-grown innovators.

These awards allow us to reflect on the excellence we have represented in this sector across the state, highlighting the talent we can cultivate right here in Tasmania.

The Hodgman Liberal Government has been a long-time supporter of TasICT, the peak body for the ICT sector in Tasmania, and is proud to once again sponsor this event.

We are committed to working closely with industry to help nurture the future growth of the industry, embrace the value that it presents to our economy and harness its power to improve the lives of all Tasmanians.

Congratulations to all of the 2019 Tasmanian iAward and TasICT Awards for Excellence winners and good luck to those iAward winners who are now through to the National iAwards, to be held in Melbourne in August.

iAward for Research & Development Project of the Year – Tassal Land Based Feeding System (Intuit Technologies)

iAward for Data Insights Innovation of the Year – Basin Futures (CSIRO’s Date61 and Land & Water)

ICT Excellence Award for Best Project or Project Management – AI Based Autonomous Offshore Aquaculture Feeding System (Huon Aquaculture)

iAward for Undergraduate Tertiary Students – Wellbeing (University of Tasmania)

ICT Excellence Award for Best ICT Employer – TasNetworks (TasNetworks)

iAward for Industrial & Primary Industries – Tassal Land Based Feeding System  (Intuit Technologies)

ICT Excellence Award for Outstanding Contribution of a Tasmanian Woman in Technology – Jessica Wilson (Jessica Wilson)

iAward for Infrastructure & Platforms Innovation – Tassal Land Based Feeding System (Intuit Technologies)

iAward for Public Sector & Government – Aurora PAYG+ (Aurora and RXP Group)

ICT Excellence Award for Best Contribution to Sustainability or Protection of the Environment – The HUON Sustainability Dashboard (Huon Aquaculture)

ICT Excellence Award for Best Customer Service or Solution in an ICT Business – Hobart Airport Smart HBA (Fortify Edge)

iAward for Automation Technologies of the Year – AI Based Autonomous Offshore Aquaculture Feeding System (Huon Aquaculture)

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