Premier Peter Gutwein has confirmed his government's commitment to building a second bridge over the Tamar River as part of several key projects pegged for the North.
Mr Gutwein spoke to The Examiner's senior journalist CAITLIN JARVIS about his top priorities for the region on Wednesday after being sworn in on Monday.
As a member for Bass for 18 years, Mr Gutwein said he had a keen understanding of the issues facing the North and hoped he could use that understanding to progress key infrastructure projects and feed it into the statewide strategy and plan for Tasmania.
Second Tamar Bridge
A feasibility study into the second bridge across the Tamar River is being conducted but Mr Gutwein said he did not have a timeline on when that would be completed but that he would seek federal support to fund it.
"One of the things that I've long felt should happen in the North is that we need to ensure that we continue with the process of planning a second Tamar bridge here in Launceston," he said.
"I think that anybody who gets caught in the horse shoe that occurs between the west and the east link coming through Launceston of a morning or afternoon [knows it should happen]. We need to have a solution to ensure as our city grows and we have more traffic movements that we've got an adequate solution."
Mr Gutwein would not be drawn on a timeline for the feasibility study for the bridge but indicated he would seek federal support to fund the project from Infrastructure Australia.
"Obviously we need to work through that to ensure the feasibility study is completed. The funding's in the budget and planning around that is underway. In the forward estimates for the 2022-23 years we've put aside more than $20 million as a start [for the project]...but I think it's a very important infrastructure project."
Tamar River issues
A solution to fix the Tamar River was part of the Launceston City Deal, announced in 2017 and Mr Gutwein said one of his goals as Premier would be to progress that and ensure an "adequate solution" to the challenge of Launceston's combined sewerage system.
"In the forward planning for Tas Water, there's more than $300 million worth of investment to fix that problem. There's further investment that's been provided by the state or federal governments through the [Launceston] City Deal as well," he said.
Mr Gutwein said in total there was more than $400 million to "throw into that challenge" over the next five to 10 years, which should be positive for the region.
The Launceston City Deal was recently extended for five years after being announced in 2017.
LGH co-located hospital
Mr Gutwein said while he had yet to receive a briefing regarding the status of the co-located hospital, he acknowledged its significance to the region.
Calvary's unsolicited bid for the co-located private hospital was first put to the state government in December 2017.
The new build would replace the private health provider's St Luke's and St Vincent's hospitals in Launceston.
Health Minister Sarah Courtney has stated on the record that a final decision from the government on the project would be made in the first half of 2020, following advice on the final proposal.
"Obviously a process for that is underway. In terms of where health stands right at this time, I haven't received a briefing since becoming Premier on that but it's certainly a project that would be of enormous value to the system," he said.
"In terms of co-locating a private hospital in a health precinct next to a public hospital there will be synergies, there will be efficiencies we'll be carving out and importantly, the outcome of that will be better health services for Tasmanians."
Mt Gutwein's wife Amanda said she was proud of her "husband, friend and great dad" for his hard work dedicated to Tasmania.
"I know that Peter will continue to work very hard for all Tasmanians as he has done for the past 18 years. Having Peter work around the state has been part of our lives for a long time and we're grateful for the support of our family and friends that make it possible," she said.
"I recognise it's a great honour to be the Premier of Tasmania and we are sad to see Will [Hodgman] move on. He's been a good friend to us over the years and I wish him, Nikky and their children all the very best."
Mr Gutwein is Tasmania's 46th Premier.