Economy, jobs Labor's focus

THE economy will be Labor's major focus in the lead-up to the next state election, due in March 2014.

Premier Lara Giddings yesterday announced her government's agenda for 2013 and will today announce its jobs package.

For the North, the package will include:

* $1 million to upgrade lighting at Aurora Stadium to make the venue suitable for first-class day- night cricket plus offer the option of afternoon or night AFL games.

•* $1 million to extend the boardwalk at the Launceston Seaport, creating a versatile public space that could be used for community markets or events, plus provide more marina berths that are accessible across all tides. The boardwalk would be extended into the North Esk River by 18 metres.

•* $800,000 to construct a high- standard mountain bike park at Hollybank, the forest reserve between Launceston and Lilydale.

"These projects would create up to 80 jobs as well as support the creation of ongoing employment by delivering lasting infrastructure supporting further economic benefits," Ms Giddings said.

"We know that by developing infrastructure that encourages people to come to Tasmania, we are supporting the tourism sector, and I expect the prospect of hosting first-class cricket games as well as mountain bike tourism will be a boost for the industry."

The jobs package also coincides with confirmation a $75 million arts and theatre development will go ahead in Hobart - the state government will contribute $15.3 million.

"This (2013 agenda) is a policy framework which will help to determine the decisions that we make around jobs, around people and around opportunities that we want to create for our communities," Ms Giddings said.

"There is nothing more important than providing jobs for Tasmanians, creating opportunities for the future and ensuring that no one gets left behind."

She said the policy direction would be delivered in the 2013-14 state budget and continued through to the election.

The jobs package being released today is the first part of the agenda.

Ms Giddings said the government had consulted widely in preparing the package, which she said would improve confidence, and create new jobs and job opportunities in partnership with the private sector.

She said other elements of the agenda, including initiatives to help Tasmanians in need and to maximise educational opportunities for children, would be detailed in the new year.

Opposition Leader Will Hodgman was sceptical of Labor's 2013 agenda, saying it was all talk.

"Ms Giddings has spent the last two years destroying jobs, punishing regional communities and crushing future opportunities by systematically dismantling our once-proud forest industry," Mr Hodgman said.

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