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'Premier Will Hodgman needs to actually pick up the phone and speak to his federal counterparts to get this project moving.' ABC Hobart Breakfast Radio Interview, Tuesday 24 October 2017





Subject/s: Bridgewater Bridge project, AFP at Hobart Airport

LEON COMPTON: Lisa Singh, Labor Senator for Tasmania. Senator, Good morning to you.


COMPTON: Yesterday you were asking questions about the Bridgewater bridge and where the promises are up to in terms of getting plans on the drawing board and possible federal funding. What did you learn?

SINGH: Well not very much! Unfortunately the promises don't seem to be moving forward at the Federal government end, and that’s makes me concerned about how much the Tasmanian government has moved this project forward as well. As you know Leon, and your listeners know, the issues for the Bridgewater bridge and that whole project have been kicking around for quite a long time, and despite what the Premier's website revealed – which was that things are moving forward as far as the Derwent River's crossing capacity and putting in their bid to Infrastructure Australia – when I asked those questions to the Infrastructure Department they were very unaware of any costings, any new bridge design, any time frames. They simply did not have any of that information from the state government. And that is really, really disappointing. So clearly there's been a big breakdown in communication.

COMPTON: Does it suggest that there's just a lot of talk around this without much action. Is this distilling what you're saying?

SINGH: I think that's correct. I think there is and Premier Will Hodgman needs to actually pick up the phone and speak to his federal counterparts to get this project moving. I mean we're talking about a half a billion dollar project! And the Premier's website outlines that the Federal government seems to be completely in the dark about it. And it's not going to happen without federal contribution and the Premier doesn't seem to be doing anything about that, let alone any action at all by the Federal government.

Now when Labor was in power we made it very clear, and indeed in our last budget for the Midland Highway upgrade we provided $194 million, which included money for the Bridgewater bridge renovations. Now that money was stripped out by the Liberals as part of their $100 million dollar cut to the upgrade and again even if we look at other projects that I asked about yesterday – Hobart light rail, again, something that Labor committed half a million dollars to, that was taken out by the federal government, they were completely in the dark on that issue as well. And that was very surprising Leon, because as we know, the Prime Minister came to Hobart in November last year to talk up a city deal for Hobart and in that he talked about light rail being part of that for Hobart. But when I asked the Department of Infrastructure yesterday about what kind of communication and coordination was going on between Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Infrastructure Department, they were completely in the dark, they'd received nothing. So that just shows that Tasmania, and Hobart particularly, have been completely forgotten. These are important infrastructure projects, the Bridgewater bridge, Hobart light rail, these are the kinds of projects that are important for our transport infrastructure to move our city forward and the Federal government and the state government are just completely hoodwinking Tasmanians and leaving us in the dark.

COMPTON: David Bushby, Liberal Senator for Tasmania, will be joining us in a couple of days’ time. We'll pick up some of these issues with his office. Lisa Singh, you're currently asking questions I think in estimates about the Australian Federal Police presence at Hobart Airport. We saw a situation over the weekend even, where some individuals were to be removed off a plane and people on that plane were held up for a significant period of time while the relevant police turned up. What have you learned about the AFP at Hobart Airport?

SINGH: Yeah, I just rushed out of estimates after asking the AFP those questions, because I needed to be clear about the fact that, firstly the AFP are, as we know, the experts in national security and organised crime. We had, as you said Leon, the Rebel motorcycle gang in Hobart and a situation on Sunday on a particular QANTAS flight where six persons identified as Rebels were asked to be removed from the flight before it would take off, following intimidatory comments that they made to cabin crew. Now the cuts to the AFP at Hobart Airport which occurred as we know in 2014, has meant that Tasmania Police, alone, have to respond to any organised crime – and this particular incident on their own – at the airport.

I asked particularly whether the AFP provided any assistance in this instance, but the answer was no, and I think when we think about the fact that this is our capital city airport – the only airport without any AFP presence – and we had an incident, well I would like to take my hat off to Tasmania Police for their excellent role in this. But this is where our AFP presence is important and is needed. Now I understand there is an assessment going on into airport security. I asked whether Hobart is being included in the list of airports that that assessment is looking at, and the AFP wouldn't be definitive in giving me an answer. I insist that Hobart be included because the last time any assessment was done into our airport security by the Office of Transport Security was in 2014. So that's nearly four years ago now, and it's time that that reassessment was done, in light of incidents that occurred like that last Sunday.

COMPTON: Doesn't sound like Launceston's anywhere near getting an AFP presence any time soon, from the progress we're making in terms of Hobart. Good to talk to you this morning, Senator.

SINGH: Thanks Leon.