COVID-19 has been the biggest health, economic and societal shock to hit our state in a century. It has challenged all of us in in ways previously unimagined, and forced action, which has curbed our freedoms and unfortunately cost many Tasmanians their jobs. Tragically, it has also cost Tasmanian lives.
However thanks to the hard work and sacrifices made by Tasmanians there is good news and that is we now have the virus under control, making our Island state the envy of the world.
Now, we face the second and arguably tougher phase of this fight - to reboot our economy, while avoiding a deadly second wave of the virus.
This will not be easy. Measures to manage the virus will mean businesses will need to find new ways to do old things, to stay profitable and employ their fellow Tasmanians in a COVID-Safe environment.
It's no longer about shutting down and saving lives it's now about opening up our economy and rebuilding lives.
To give our economy the boost it needs we are unleashing a two-year record construction blitz, supporting around 15,000 jobs.
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The package will build on the Government's current infrastructure package of $1.8 billion over the next two years, and in total will underpin and support an estimated total construction value of $3.1 billion across the next two years.
It brings forward government expenditure, it will stimulate investment in the private sector, it will strengthen and underpin the economy, build business confidence and create much needed jobs.
I have said that the hallmarks of this Government will be one of compassion, conviction and opportunity, and never before has that been more important as we rally together to build our way out of coronavirus.
The centrepiece of the package delivers 2300 new dwellings including, social and affordable houses across the state.
It also secures and fast-tracks projects across community infrastructure, roads, irrigation and other essential infrastructure.
The construction blitz will also benefit Tasmanian apprentices or younger Tasmanians looking to learn a trade with our Building and Construction training policy requiring that contracts in excess of $250,000 use apprentices for a minimum of 20% of the labour required for work undertaken on government-funded building and construction works.
A state-wide Skills Roundtable will be held in coming weeks to discuss skills and training options that will help deliver our significant infrastructure and construction pipeline and boost local jobs.
The Roundtable will include key industry and business stakeholders, TasTAFE, regional skills and workforce development bodies and relevant unions.
These are challenging times, but now is not the time to sit idle, now is the time to unleash the most significant stimulus program we can, to kick-start the recovery process and help get Tasmania get back on track and back in business.
I'd like to take the opportunity to thank our tireless and hardworking frontline responders and our public health experts who have helped guide us through this unprecedented challenge.
And an enormous thank you to all Tasmanians. Thank you for your compassion and patience as we've worked together to get through this.
- Peter Gutwein is the Premier of Tasmania