Abbott vows to unshackle state

Written By miftah nugraha on Sabtu, 02 Februari 2013 | 19.55

Liberal Leader Tony Abbott tours the bushfire-ravaged town of Dunalley. Pictures: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES

FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has taken a swipe at Tasmania's floundering economic position, vowing to remove the "red tape and green tape" he says is stifling development and investment in the state.

Hitting the hustings in Tasmania just two days after Prime Minister Julia Gillard named the September 14 election date, Mr Abbott says Tasmania's economy has been "constricted and constrained" by Labor-Green governments federally and locally.

"I think the message from the Coalition to the people of Tasmania is, we want you to be a great state, not just for tourism, but for business more generally," he said.

Mr Abbott also pledged his support for the forestry industry and a $400 million upgrade of the Midland Highway.

He said he was confident a duplication of the highway from Hobart to Launceston could be delivered at this price.

But Tasmanian Infrastructure Minister David O'Byrne slammed suggestions the project could be completed for less than $2 billion.

Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese said it was a repeat of a 2010 promise by Mr Abbott.

Mr Abbott said Tasmania would not be worse off under plans to redistribute GST funding and reiterated support for the forestry industry.

"We have enough forests locked up in Tasmania already," he said.

"The forestry industry in Tasmania should have a growing future not a shrinking, dying future and that's the tragedy of the policies being pursued by the government."

During a tour of properties affected by the recent bushfire at Dunalley, Mr Abbott re-issued calls for the Federal Government to extend its emergency relief funding to businesses commercially affected by natural disaster.

"Communities can't really survive without businesses to support them," he said.

"There are many businesses in this town which haven't been physically damaged but have been commercially damaged.

"That's why the Coalition believes that there should be an emergency assistance package for disaster-hit businesses.

"We think the $100,000 emergency loans that are ordinarily available under category C assistance should be available not just for the physically-hit businesses but the commercially-hit businesses."

Mr Abbott also called for a one-month break from GST and PAYG taxes.

Dunalley Fish Market owner Bruce Chambers supported calls to extend emergency relief funding to all businesses in the area.

"Everybody has been impacted, some more than others," he said.

"If you haven't got small businesses functioning then you haven't got the back-up for [local services] and with no employment you've got no need to have the school."

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