TASMANIA stands to gain about as much from a targeted spending package to kick-start the job- starved state under a new federal Liberal government as it would under Labor.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's economic growth plan for Tasmania, released in Launceston yesterday, committed nearly $480million in spending for the state.
This would include nearly $72million in new money for infrastructure projects compared with federal Labor's $100million Tasmania package announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at the end of last month.
About $74million of Labor's Tasmania package was for 26 individual projects - the successful applicants from more than 400 who applied for funds from the latest round of the state's forestry intergovernmental agreement compensation money.
Mr Abbott acknowledged yesterday that some of his economic growth plan money was already known.
It included the $400million that was locked in by the federal Liberals last election to upgrade the Midland Highway.
Mr Abbott agreed that costs for the highway had probably gone up since the commitment four years ago, but said that the Liberals could still build it for less than the $2billion suggested by Labor.
"The $400million will be there in the current forward estimates and it will be available over a number of years to upgrade the highway," Mr Abbott said.
"It's probably not enough to fully duplicate it, but it is certainly going to make a big difference."
Tasmanian Opposition Leader Will Hodgman, who was travelling with Mr Abbott yesterday, said that he was not disappointed that the amount was unchanged.
"We have welcomed this commitment now for a long time - this is money on the table that has been committed," Mr Hodgman said.
"This is a long-term project - it's going to take many years but we need to start the work now."
Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Andrew Heap welcomed the Liberals' plan to set up a Tasmanian major projects approval agency in Launceston, announced as part of the economic growth plan.
"It's wonderful for Launceston - we need more Commonwealth presence here and this is about the most interesting thing I've heard from the election campaign so far," Mr Heap said.
The economic growth plan also included:
$38million in new money to further expand Hobart Airport.
Mr Abbott said that the money would be spent to extend the air strip by an additional 500 metres so that the biggest freight and passenger jets could land.
"It will be an important boost to the overall transport economy of Tasmania," he said.
$24million new money to establish a centre for Antarctic and Southern Ocean research.
$3million new money on top of the continuing $10million for the Sense-T project to establish an advanced sensor manufacturing facility.
Mr Abbott wants to set up a joint Commonwealth Tasmanian economic council comprised of the prime minister, federal treasurer, Tasmanian premier and Tasmanian business representatives.
"Issues affecting Tasmania's competitiveness would be given prominence at the national level," he said.
Mr Abbott said that he would seek to have the latest round of World Heritage declared areas removed.
"We have never supported Labor's rushed World Heritage extension, which was put in place against the will of the Tasmanian people and we will seek to have it removed," he said.
He would also look at relocating appropriate federal agencies and other functions from Canberra to Tasmania.
The Liberals are expected to announce their Tasmania plan closer to the September 7 election.