OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott has vowed to implement an economic growth plan for Tasmania which he says will create more jobs and rise living standards, if the Coalition is elected on September 7.

Mr Abbott announced the plan while at a business breakfast in Launceston today.

“It is only through building a stronger economy that we can deliver the better future that Tasmania deserves. A future with more jobs, higher wages and better service,” he said.

“The combination of Labor-Green minority governments in Canberra and Hobart has done enormous damage to the Tasmanian economy.

“Under Labor, no additional new jobs have been created. In fact, almost one in ten full time jobs have been lost under the Rudd-Gillard government. Tasmania needs real action to create jobs.”

Tasmania’s unemployment rate of 8.2% is the highest of all Australian states and territories.

According to the Coalition, its Economic Growth Plan for Tasmania will:

  • Create a “Tasmanian Major Projects Approval Agency” to act as a one-stop-shop for new major projects requiring any Commonwealth approvals;
  • Provide $38 million to expand Hobart International Airport and secure Hobart as a world centre for Antarctic and Southern Ocean research;
  • Elevate Tasmania’s jobs and economic growth prospects by establishing a “Joint Commonwealth and Tasmanian Economic Council” that will include the Prime Minister, Treasurer and representatives of Tasmanian business and the State Government;
  • Implement a jobs programme that will provide a payment of $3,250 to Tasmanian businesses that hire long term unemployed job seekers;
  • Invest $400 million to upgrade the Midland Highway;
  • Implement a joint Productivity Commission and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission review into Tasmania’s shipping costs, the competitiveness of Tasmania’s freight industry structure and improving the equity and effectiveness of the Tasmanian Freight Equalisation and the Bass Strait Passenger Vehicle Equalisation Schemes;
  • Make Hobart the world class centre for Antarctic Research and capabilities by providing an additional $24 million to establish a new Centre for Antarctic and Southern Ocean Research;
  • Boost investment in information, technology and communications in Tasmania through commitments to Sense-T, the Pathways to Market project and an advanced sensor manufacturing facility;
  • Maintain support for long-term Regional Forest Agreements;
  • Promote the expansion of the fruit and vegetable industry by creating a “Fruit and Vegetable Industry Taskforce”; and
  • Protect Tasmania’s share of the GST.

No further details have been released at this stage.