Tasmania setting fine example: Abbott

If only the rest of Australia could follow Tasmania’s lead.


That seemed to be the message from Prime Minister Tony Abbott who was the star guest at Saturday’s state Liberal Party conference in Hobart.

Since the election of Liberal administrations at both federal and state levels, the apple isle has shown an admirable upturn in fortune, he said.

“Thanks to a good government in Canberra and over the last 12 months or so, a very good government in Hobart, Tasmania has gone from being just a great place to live and a great place to visit, to being a great place to work and a great place to invest.”

Mr Abbott cited the creation of 10,000 jobs in Tasmania over the past two years.

In the past 12 months, business investment has grown five per cent, private investment is up eight per cent and construction investment is up 15 per cent.

“Confidence is surging back into the Tasmanian economy,” Mr Abbott said.

He used the opportunity to champion the benefits for Tasmania of Australia’s pending free trade agreement with China.

“Trade means jobs and more trade means more jobs and more jobs mean more prosperity, it’s as simple as that,” the prime minister said.

Tasmania’s wine, beef, lamb, cheese and seafood are just some of the products with a great appeal for the Chinese market, he added.

Mr Abbott chastised Labor for standing in the way of the trade deal and there was also some general dressing down of the opposition.

“What Labor are doing is saying no about everything that’s bright about our future,” the prime minister said.

Mr Abbott said the federal government would spend $16 million on a new Tasmanian jobs and investment fund that would also attract $8 million from the state for eligible new projects.

Every $2 of private investment would be matched with a dollar of taxpayer money.

The $16 million was initially promised by Mr Abbott to Hobart’s Cadbury chocolate factory during the 2013 election campaign, but the deal failed in March.

The conference included the announcement that Tasmania’s three incumbent federal Liberal MPs – Andrew Nikolic, Eric Hutchinson and Brett Whitely – have been formally endorsed to again stand for their electorates at the 2016 election.

And in a case of perfect timing for the party, Tasmanian police announced on Saturday they would not be investigating former state Liberal director Damien Mantach for his use of a company credit card.

Mr Mantach repaid almost $48,000 to the state branch before he left Tasmania in 2008 and Labor leader Bryan Green last week referred the matter to police, suspicious of criminal activity.

But investigators said that without a complaint from a victim, there was no case.

Premier Will Hodgman said the party has maintained all along there was no criminal wrongdoing in the matter and said Mr Green should have sought better legal advice.

Mr Hodgman is due to address the conference on Sunday.