AAP FactCheck

Restoring confidence in public statements by independently testing and verifying the facts

Has the coalition failed to start any new major road projects in Tasmania that Labor had not already commenced?

By Tiffanie Turnbull, James Lane and Louise Evans

The Statement

After near six years of cuts and chaos, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government has failed to commence a single new major project anywhere in the state that had been originally identified and funded by the former federal Labor government.

Labor MP for Lyons Brian Mitchell. May 1, 2019.

The Analysis

Lyons MP Brian Mitchell says the government’s track record on road infrastructure in Tasmania amounts to nothing as Labor announced a suite of promises. Mr Mitchell accompanied Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese as he outlined ALP’s pledge to spend $1.3 billion on road upgrades across the island state. [1]

Mr Mitchell holds the marginal Labor seat of Lyons by 3.8 per cent. Lyons is Tasmania’s largest electorate which includes the northern agricultural districts between Launceston and the Tamar River in the east and Devonport and Latrobe in the west. It also includes towns on the state's east coast, rural areas of the central and southern midlands, the Derwent Valley and areas on the edge of greater Hobart. [2]

AAP FactCheck examined Mr Mitchell’s claim that not a single new major road project has commenced under the coalition government since it was elected in 2013, that Labor had not already started.

Mr Mitchell told AAP FactCheck he was referring to road projects but wouldn’t clarify what he meant by “major”.

A spokesperson for the government sent AAP FactCheck a list of a number of road projects commenced since it came to power in 2013.

The list, from the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, included 13 road projects promised and commenced by the coalition since 2013. Five projects on the list have been completed and eight have been started. Eleven are jointly funded by state and federal governments. The two that are solely federal-funded are $2.5 million for Soldiers Settlement Road and $3.46 million for the Industry Road upgrade.

The jointly-funded projects include a $12.5 million upgrade to the Murchison Highway, a key freight and passenger route connecting the state’s west and north, as well as $8.92 million for the Highland Lakes Road and a $2.88 million Bass Highway upgrade.

Another jointly-funded project is the $30 million Hobart Airport Interchange. Tenders for the project have been called and construction is due to begin in October.

A media report about the $12.5 million Murchison Highway upgrade states the project was promised by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull in the 2018 Braddon by-election, and despite losing that poll, the project went ahead. [3]

Works commenced on the Murchison Highway upgrade in December 2018, and are expected to finish in February 2020. [4]

Based on this evidence AAP FactCheck found Mr Mitchell’s claim that the government had failed to commence a single major road project since it was elected to be false.

The Verdict

  • False - All the checkable elements are false.

The References

1: Anthony Albanese delivers $1.3 billion pledge to fix Tassie roads’, by David Killick. The Mercury. May 1, 2019: https://www.themercury.com.au/news/politics/anthony-albanese-delivers-13-billion-pledge-to-fix-tassie-roads/news-story/c01c4ac70ddfaab9dfcee97956229362

2: ‘Lyons (Key Seat). Australia Votes’. ABC: https://www.abc.net.au/news/federal-election-2016/guide/lyon/

3: ‘Whiteley's byelection campaign launched by Prime Minister’, by Imogen Elliott. July 8, 2018: https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/5513127/turnbull-visit-builds-hype/

4: ‘Murchison Highway - Road Improvements’. Department of State Growth - Transport: https://www.transport.tas.gov.au/road/projects/murchison_highway

  • First published May 2, 2019 18:40 AEST