Hopes river fix pledge will finally shore up

Will Hodgman and Peter Gutwein’s latest budget has tempted Tasmanians with the promise of a surplus.

Treasurer Gutwein has said he will be delivering a $54 million surplus, for the 2017-18 financial year.

This is a claim that his opponent, Labor finance spokesman Scott Bacon, refuted in an opinion piece in The Examiner earlier this week.

Both sides will always argue that their figures are more true, their financial management more sound.

A lot of this rhetoric is lost on the general population. What stands out is the dollar figures placed next to key projects.

For Northern Tasmania, the Liberal government has released its key points for the upcoming state budget.

Much of the money was tipped off by way of election promises.

Among the $249-plus million allocated to Northern and North-Eastern projects is $31.4 million for the first round of works on the clean up of the Tamar River.

It’s the first step in the $95 million overhaul of the river, committed to by the state government, off the back of a 12-pronged recommendation report by the purposefully established Tamar Estuary Management Taskforce.

The state of the Tamar River has been a thorn in the side of Launceston for too many years.

Because of the overwhelming enormity of what needs to be done to clean-up the river, it’s always been a political football, too.

Sometimes that football has been dropped.

It has taken years of neglect and buck-passes, between political parties, and tiers of government, for the funding attention the Tamar deserves, to be awarded.

Bass Labor MHR Ross Hart hit the nail on the head in the lead-up to the 2016 federal election, when he said the Tamar River clean-up was not a “sexy issue”.

But as Launceston’s boom has sounded, the issue has gained glamour and attention. 

The health of the river is fundamental to the growth of the city: its property boom, commercial development, environmental status, and general value.

Many Northern Tasmanians will be wearing of hearing dollar figures placed next to the name of such an age-old issue.

What will grab their attention, is action.

Let’s hope this is the end of the buck passing, and the start of some real action.

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